Lord mayoral candidate Rod Harding has announced that work would begin on a $1.2 billion Brisbane light rail system in the first term of Labor’s council administration.
The announcement follows Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s commitment to build the Brisbane Metro, a $1.54 billion subway system, if he is reelected.
Mr Harding said work on the light rail system would begin immediately following his election as Lord Mayor.
“This transformational project will help change the way we move as a city,” Mr Harding said.
“It will connect key activity centres while also increasing public transport capacity for the suburbs.”
The first stage of the project will stretch from Newstead through to South Brisbane and the University of Queensland.
The specifics of the nine kilometre route, including the number of stops, have been left vague, though it is known the plan would require another bridge crossing between Dutton Park and UQ and a new bridge crossing in the CBD.
Mr Harding said he would “look to the experts” to provide the “technical details” following community consultation.
Though the plan comes with a $1.2 billion price tag, the council will only put in $140 million. This includes $20 million to build the business case, and $120 million in capital expenditure.
“I’m supremely confident we will get State and Federal Government funding,” Mr Harding said.
The plan is modelled on the Gold Coast light rail project, which received funding from State and Federal governments as well as the private sector.
“Modern and ambitious cities all over the world are moving towards light rail,” Mr Harding said.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who has said the council will fund the majority of his $1.5 billion Brisbane Metro proposal, has criticised Labor’s reliance on “fairy godmothers” for funding.
“To suggest a contribution of less than $200 million on a $1.2 billion project, that somehow the fairy godmothers are going to come along, I think Labor are just kidding themselves,” he said.
The Lord Mayor expressed skepticism that light rail would help tackle congestion in Brisbane.
“Labor has put out a sketchy plan which will only add to further traffic congestion in the inner city,” he said.
Brisbane City Council elections will be held on Saturday 19 March.
Do you prefer Rod Harding’s light rail or Graham Quirk’s metro subway proposal? Have your say in the comments below!