A network of bus rapid transitways (BRT) serviced by fully-electric Metro vehicles is the key to Brisbane’s public transport future, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said.
Cr Schrinner said incorporating transitways along existing road corridors was cheaper and far more effective than trying to build heavy railways through built-up Brisbane suburbs.
“Brisbane is Australia’s fastest growing capital city and that’s creating opportunities and challenges for our city,” he said.
“We need a proper transport plan to cater for our growth and all three levels of government will need to be involved.
“Bus rapid transit systems are being incorporated into growing cities around the world and Brisbane should do the same.
“Our Council is already delivering two Brisbane Metro lines connecting 18 stations between Eight Mile Plains and Roma Street, and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the University of Queensland.
“There is significant scope to expand Brisbane Metro services east to Capalaba, north to Chermside and out to Brisbane Airport in the future.”
However, Cr Schrinner warned Council could not carry all of the burden for expanding Brisbane Metro.
“About 97 per cent of all taxation revenue is collected by the State and Federal governments,” he said.
“Brisbane residents pay their fair share of tax so it’s about time our road and transport network received a fair share so local motorists and public transport commuters can get home sooner and safer.
“If these other levels of government don’t make significant financial investments – just like they’ve done repeatedly for Gold Coast Light Rail – further expansions of Brisbane Metro simply won’t happen.”
Turn-up-and-go Brisbane Metro services will start next year, reducing travel times and increasing capacity during peak times.
Metro vehicles and electric buses will be charged at a state-of-the-art depot currently under construction at Rochedale.
The State Government first outlined a vision for 75-kilometres of dedicated busways 26 years ago – including east and north lines – but only about a third was ever built.
“Fully separated busways probably aren’t viable through Brisbane anymore but proper BRTs can work,” Cr Schrinner said.
“We’re already working with the State Government and Redland City Council to investigate extending Brisbane Metro services to transport hubs including Coorparoo, Carindale and Capalaba.
“Also, there’s great potential for an Airport Metro given the Airtrain isn’t practical or affordable for local travels as well as the 24,000 workers commuting to the ever-expanding airport precinct every day.”
However, Cr Schrinner said building the proposed Gympie Road Bypass Tunnel between Kedron and Carseldine was the only way an at-surface bus rapid transitway would work through Brisbane’s north.
“Queensland Investment Corporation is currently looking at our proposal for this tunnel and I am very confident it will stack up,” he said.
“A proper transitway along Gympie Road could be delivered in a package deal with this tunnel, just like the Northern Busway was delivered with Airport Link.
“However, without this tunnel, it is unlikely we will ever see Brisbane Metros travel along Gympie Road to Chermside.”
Bus rapid transitways have significant potential to spark suburban renewal.
“There’s great potential to incorporate stations into new precincts along the route,” Cr Schrinner said.
“For example, both Coorparoo Square and Carindale were built to incorporate buses and modern stations along these routes would be great places for mixed-used retail and housing developments.”
Bus rapid transit networks in Brazil, Colombia and China are examples of what could be achieved in Brisbane.
Curitiba in Brazil was one of the first cities in the world to adopt bus rapid transit and has since sparked a transport revolution.
Bus rapid transit in Guangzhou, China helped regenerate many of the city’s car-free urban villages, providing more employment opportunities for local residents.
Guangzhou’s bus rapid transit network now carries around 800,000 people per day and is second only to Bogota’s Transmilenio.
TransMilenio is now one of the world’s largest bus rapid transit networks and was the Colombian capital’s answer to massive population growth during the 1990s.
“World-class bus rapid transit networks are now operating successfully in cities across the world, providing fast and efficient public transport for millions of passengers every day,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Brisbane is an Olympic city as well as Australia’s fastest-growing capital and what it needs in the future is a network of bus rapid transit.
“We have nine years until the Brisbane 2032 Games and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in critical infrastructure.
“Bus rapid transit would substantially improve connectivity throughout south east Queensland but it will only be possible if all three levels of government get on board.”