Probably not of interest if you are not really interested in public transport.
I have heard quite a bit about the Gold Coast Light Rail since it was first planned. Naturally I followed the news to see if it would ever come to fruition. A local Gold Coast tour guide said to us, we never wanted the damned thing and now we have it, we love it.
The opposition to G Link, as it is called, was vehement and vicious, with local papers being flooded with letters from opponents. The noise when the trams are travelling past homes will be horrendous. It will divide the Gold Coast, a lengthy strip of beautiful beaches with lots of high rise development along with a more traditional hinterland, into two (partly true as those who are not near the tram are really missing out). It will devalue properties (only those who are not near it). As per a taxi driver, the biggest negative was during the tram line's construction, where some business failed, perhaps because of the construction disruption or perhaps they were quite marginal businesses anyway. No one can deny construction of such a project is very disruptive but now businesses along the tram line are reaping the rewards. It was suggested that it would be a white elephant and a drain on the public purse. From vague memory I think it carries three times the numbers of passengers forecast and I would be very surprised if it is not a rare beast of Australian public transport and actually makes a profit.
Interestingly Sydney's planned light rail passenger number forecasts have been significantly increased and catered for but I wonder if that will be enough.
Sydney's won't be as successful if the planners and management don't follow what the Gold Coast tram planners and management did. Are you picking up that I was impressed by the Gold Coast tram?
So why? I'll leave the ticket system out for now, except to say you can arrive at what locals call a tram station, sit or stand in shade, and good rain shelter. There is a plethora of information to help you use the tram at the stations. There are next two tram live time indicators. Arrows to streets and local attractions to where you might want to go. Safety and other helpful announcements at the stations. Each station has a public transport smart card machine, giving you a Go Card that can be used on all south eastern Queensland public transport. It is also easy to buy a card elsewhere in local shops. Better than the Myki system in Melbourne, you can claim the cost of the card and the unused credit back.
The trams are Flexity models, the same as Adelaide's older new trams only newer. Yes, Flexity 2, made by Bombardier, which I am never quite sure whether if it is based in Canada or Germany. Ah, Adelaide bought Flexity Classic, quite different and Melbourne's newest trams, the E Class, are Flexity Swift.
The vehicles seemed much smoother and quieter than Melbourne's newest trams, also made by Bombardier. The drivers were skillful and relaxed. The track was sound and smooth, making the combination of a really great ride.
But here is why the system is so great, tram priority, of the kind that is not seen in Melbourne. I did not take the time to study how traffic lights worked but the trams rarely sat for more than 20 seconds at traffic lights. As well, there were sensible speed limits, at times down to a low speed in heavy pedestrian areas but there was a stretch where I was sure the tram was travelling at over 60 km/h and sure enough, I saw tram speed limit signs of 70 km/h.
One valid criticism might be that some stops are a very long way apart, deterring local commuting but then I don't know about Gold Coast demographics, like where populations are that might use the tram.
During our visit, Prime Minister Turnbull announced some federal funding towards an extension from the tram line's present northern terminus to Helensvale railway station, thereby making a rail connection from Brisbane to Surfers Paradise and beyond, ready for the 2018 Gold Coast Olympic Games.
One day it may be extended to the Gold Coast airport, probably about the same time Melbourne gets a rail line to its airport and 400 km/h train travels between Sydney and Melbourne.
I was really quite impressed by the Gold Coast light rail. It was described by at least half the people I heard speak of it as 'the tram'. However, it is very unfortunate that a tram used by so many tourists who are unfamiliar with area and need to see out from the tram, some trams have that terrible all over advertising, blocking your view out of what should be clear windows.