Garth Luke’s statement that a low population density is a reason against light rail is poorly considered on many fronts.
First, major population centres are all clustered along the line connecting Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Lismore, Bangalow, Billinudgel (Ocean Shores), Casino, Murwillumbah and many smaller centres.
A low regional population density is thus irrelevant when it comes to the majority of the population accessing the line. Eighty-six per cent of residents in Byron and Lismore LGAs live within 5km of the line.
Second, our proximity to major population centres such as Gold Coast and Brisbane as well as the rapidly expanding Coolangatta international airport matters and means that we need to connect our rail to the Queensland rail network sooner rather than later or suffer increasing traffic gridlock, particularly in coastal areas.
Third, population densities do not account for the 1.5 million tourists to Byron Shire each year.
Interesting double standard regarding tourism benefits. Whereas the rail trail proposal is dependent on attracting tourists, the discredited transport study into rail conveniently did not include the five million visitors to the region in their patronage modelling.
As well as this exclusion for local travel, the study ignored the suggestion put forward by Council that rail could ease the burden on roads and communities if tourists could arrive by train.
Regarding Mr Garth Luke’s comments on public transport, most of the centres mentioned above are serviced by local bus services.
It is connecting between these centres that is the biggest problem. A train links all these local buses resulting in a much better connected public transport network.
In turn this connectivity will likely drive expansion of local bus services as locals and tourists are presented with expanded travel options.
Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry