No light rail for Wollongong -- yet - Illawarra Greens

No light rail for Wollongong -- yet

Greens councillor Mithra Cox spoke in support of Liberal Councillor John Dorahy's idea of light rail, saying Wollongong needed a range of better transport measures to become more sustainable and support businesses in the CBD.

"Retail is not dead, retail is dead in Wollongong because we don't have a really good integrated public transport network," she said.

"People are just absolutely limited by our lack of imagination. i think it's absolutely a false argument to say that just because our other public transport is crap - that our train is infrequent, and the government cut funding to the free bus - that we shouldn't even bother talking about this."

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 29 October 2019

Councillor's push for Wollongong light rail network fails

Newcastle's light rail system.
Newcastle's light rail system.

Liberal John Dorahy pitched the idea on Monday night, saying it could help to invigorate the CBD and improve connectivity to outer suburbs.

"In a perfect world and if someone else was going to pay for it, it would be lovely to have a tram throughout our city," she said.

"But it is not council's responsibly to fund a feasibility study.

"Studies cost money and we do not have rail expertise on staff, so we would have to outsource this at considerable expense."

Labor councillor David Brown put forward an alternative motion, supported by councillors, which said any future options for public transport should be considered as part of the city's next 10 year plan.

"I think [light rail] is a solution is search of a problem, Wollongong does not have a congestion problem at present," he said.

"It's not hard to get from suburb to suburb, its not hard to get around the CBD... especially because of our beautiful green bus."

He said the council risked undermining its lobbying efforts in other areas - like the full funding of the free bus - if it were to support a light rail plan.

He also said a light rail system could cost $545 million - using Sydney light rail figures - just to link Wollongong hospital to the beach.

That is the cost of building six West Dapto bridges, which individually is the biggest infrastructure project this city has ever undertaken

Greens councillor Mithra Cox spoke in support of the idea of light rail, saying Wollongong needed a range of better transport measures to become more sustainable and support businesses in the CBD.

"Retail is not dead, retail is dead in Wollongong because we don't have a really good integrated public transport network," she said.

"People are just absolutely limited by our lack of imagination. i think it's absolutely a false argument to say that just because our other public transport is crap - that our train is infrequent, and the government cut funding to the free bus - that we shouldn't even bother talking about this."

She suggested changes to Cr Dorahy's original motion, which she said would flag the city's interest in light rail to higher levels of government, but would not cost the council money in consultancy fees.

Cr Dorahy said he had hoped the city would "get out of adolescence and into adulthood" by supporting light rail, but was nonchalant about his motion's defeat.

"I don't give two hoots about getting smashed up on this," he told other councillors, adding that he was glad the councillors had at least held a debate over light rail.