AFTER three months of testing and a few hiccups in the form of track incursions by wayward motorists, the Gold Coast light rail system is ready to take its first passengers on Sunday, July 20.
Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson announced today that the tram doors will be open to the public for free on the Sunday before accepting paid passengers for the first time from Monday, July 21.
“The wait is finally over and, after three years of design and construction works, the Gold Coast will have a world-class public transport option,” Emerson says.
A spokesman for the minister concedes the start time is later than he would have preferred, but she denies the delay had anything to do with the number of vehicles that have found their way on the tracks at Southport, causing delays to the test timetables.
Some sources have suggested the government had sought a 97 per cent on-time rate from tram operator GoldLinQ before giving the operator the green light to accept paying passengers.
The number of track incursions is said to have spoiled the testing schedule, causing GoldLinQ to reset its testing program cycle multiple times.
However, GoldLinQ has dismissed the claims, saying that the timetable running was not impacted by cars entering the light rail tracks.
It also says there have been no problems encountered during testing and it does not expect any hiccups once operations are in full swing.
“Trams are performing as required with passenger services set to start on July 20,” a GoldLinQ spokesman says.
“TransLink ticketing systems are already in place on all platforms.”
Emerson today talked up the service as a major boost to the Gold Coast’s transport infrastructure.
“As a government we have a strong plan to get more people on to public transport and light rail provides an easy-to-use, frequent service ensuring a bright future for anyone travelling in and around the Gold Coast,” he says.
“Following the day of free travel on Sunday, paid passenger tram services and the new bus timetable will commence on Monday, July 21, that will include additional high-frequency bus routes and improved connections between trains, buses and trams.
“Trams will run every seven-and-a-half minutes, to Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach and I encourage everyone to jump on board.”
Emerson says final testing of the system will continue over the next two weeks.
The $1.2 billion light rail system will be serviced by 14 trams with passengers able to board from 16 stations along the 13km route.
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