REAL TEST BEGINS FOR GOLD COAST TRAM SERVICES

REAL TEST BEGINS FOR GOLD COAST TRAM SERVICES

AFTER a bumper start to the first day of light-rail travel on the Gold Coast, the number of paying passengers taking to the today has yet to be collated by operator GoldLinQ.

A spokesman for GoldLinQ confirmed that about 80,000 passengers boarded the light rail system on Sunday, lured by free travel on the Gold Coast’s newest transport infrastructure.

This was at the upper end of the system’s capacity, representing the equivalent of about 15 per cent of the Gold Coast’s population giving the new trams a go.

GoldLinQ says it had been expecting between 55,000 and 70,000 passengers on the first day which came after three months of testing.

With full-fare operations beginning in earnest today, these figures are expected to fall sharply as Gold Coasters finally test the merit of light rail over other transport options.

Based on original estimates in 2011, the light rail system had been expected to carry about 50,000 passengers daily.

Once the euphoria of initial services wanes, GoldLinQ is now targeting to move about 25,000 people a day on regular services in the first two years of operation.

While GoldLinQ is now charged with making the system an economic success, international engineering consultancy group Arup has declared “mission accomplished’ for its contribution to the $1.2 billion project.

Arup led the design and construction for stage one of the G-Link system, contracted to the job by GoldLinQ.

Despite logistical toughness, Arup project manager Sarah McIntosh says the group is proud to have delivered the light rail system.

“Technically, [the light rail] has been a difficult project owing to its unique site location in a highly constrained area and challenging ground conditions,” says McIntosh.

“Through innovation in design a low impact approach to delivery and excellence in operations, our design solution provides a platform for the city’s continued growth.”

Steven Ciobo, the Federal Member for Moncrieff, has welcomed the start of services this week saying the system will satisfy local travel trends.

“The Gold Coast Rapid Transit delivers a modern, integrated light rail system that helps meet the transport needs of Australia’s sixth largest city,” says Ciobo.

“In peak periods, each light rail vehicle will be able to carry 309 passengers, which is the equivalent of six buses.”

The federal government contributed $365 million to bring the light rail project to fruition, with the rest of the bill picked up by the state government and the city council.

The Queensland Government is subsidising the venture for the next 15 years, recouping some of that through ticket sales.

The light rail route extends 13km from the Gold Coast University Hospital to Pacific Fair at Broadbeach and is serviced by 14 stations.

Trams have begun operating on GoldLinQ’s standard timetable, from 5am to 11.50pm Monday to Thursday and a 24-hour service on weekends.

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