Light rail 'too costly' for Wollongong's future transport plan - Illawarra Greens

Light rail 'too costly' for Wollongong's future transport plan

"I definitely support advocacy about transport infrastructure, so that Wollongong can get its fair share of funding from the NSW Government," she said. "I think we need to deal with the infrequency of services on the South Coast rail line, and I think investment there, into heavy rail, would deliver more quick wins for the city."

Read the article by Kate McIlwain, The Illawarra Mercury, 21 October 2019

Light rail 'too costly' for Wollongong's future transport plan

Newcastle's light rail. Picture: Marina Neil.
Newcastle's light rail. Picture: Marina Neil.

He will ask the council to deliver a report into the potential costs and benefits of light rail - as well as trackless trams - as well as a plan to drum up support from politicians, business leaders and other stakeholders.

Labor councillor Ann Martin said she believed traditional light rail was far too expensive for Wollongong to consider, and said the region's heavy rail link to Sydney needed to be a priority.

She also said light rail would date quickly, and believed the council would be better placed to wait for advances in eco-friendly driverless buses or trackless tram-style vehicles.

"For me our priority has to be the Wollongong to Sydney heavy rail... and then let's see where the technology is and investigate one of these trackless options, or the driverless buses," she said. "I don't think we can be digging up Crown Street, and I don't think its fair on our retailers either. But cheap, fast, accessible public transport does have to be in our future."

Greens councillor Cath Blakey welcomed Cr Dorahy's motion to investigate future transport options, as well as his suggestion that light rail could help to reduce Wollongong's carbon emissions.

However she did not believe light rail was the best option, and said it was important to focus on things the council could fund, like bike paths and roads.

"I definitely support advocacy about transport infrastructure, so that Wollongong can get its fair share of funding from the NSW Government," she said. "I think we need to deal with the infrequency of services on the South Coast rail line, and I think investment there, into heavy rail, would deliver more quick wins for the city."

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said any investigation of Wollongong's future transport system needed to be much broader than light rail.

He said, for instance, that Japanese-style electric buses, trackless trams, or even a duplication of the heavy rail South Coast line may be more feasible.

"I would suggest a broader scope where we look at how we're going to cope with mass transit issues," he said.

"Whether that's electric buses or a light rail system or some other configuration, we have to get our head around that, because Wollongong is a major employment hub."

Cr Bradbery said a local commuter service, with more frequent trains running from Helensburgh to Kiama, could be an option.