Community concerns about paid parking in Byron Bay, and the proposal to move Byron Community Markets from Butler Street to the Cavvanbah Sports Centre, are understandable.
Then there’s the $10 million Byron bypass which is causing angst among affected residents, but will do little to reduce traffic or parking problems in the town.
At the recent jobs forum in Ballina, lack of public transport was again identified as a major impediment to people in this region obtaining employment.
The West Byron development of possibly 1,000 homes will dramatically increase traffic and parking problems.
While governments spend billions upgrading the Pacific Highway to the specifications of the road transport lobby, little has been spent on our dangerous local roads, which are a little more than a patchwork of potholes.
Given there’s a billion-dollar train line and station in the centre of Byron; the only sensible, least environmentally destructive, cost effective, sustainable solution to all these problems is to have a regular commuter train service into Byron and around the region.
In Byron, and many of the eight out of ten major towns connected by the rail line, it’s an easy walk from the station to shops, markets, and beach. Festival sites at Bangalow, Mullumbimby. Tyagarah and Yelgun, are situated close to the rail line and could easily be connected, reducing some of the traffic congestion created by these events. No need to sit in traffic for hours breathing fumes then drive around looking for non-existent parking.
In other towns along the train line, local bus services could easily connect people to trains, as they do in other regions around the country.
The northern rivers population is growing fast. It’s also the third largest tourism destination after Sydney and Melbourne, with 4.6m visitors per year. Over 900,000 of these visitors come over the border from Queensland to Byron Bay every year.
The political dynamic of this electorate has changed. We are no longer a safe seat that politicians can ignore.
Rather than being distracted by individual issues such as the bypass, paid parking, moving markets, traffic congestion et al, the community needs to unite and tell our political representatives loudly and clearly that regular train services around the region and connected to Coolangatta, are the best solution to all of the above.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores