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THE State Government has vowed to press ahead with expanding the light rail as part of its post-COVID recovery, despite data revealing a massive drop in patronage.
Budget papers show the number of people using public transport in the past financial year was dramatically lower than expected, with numbers set to fall even further.
The impact of the pandemic shutdown and the tourism downturn have both been blamed for the decline.
Light rail will still go from Burleigh Heads to Gold Coast Airport despite a fall in patronage figures. Picture: SuppliedThe G-Link tram carried 8.46 million passengers in 2019-20, below the 11.1 million predicted in last year’s budget.
The figures for this financial year are grim, with just 5.66 million passenger trips expected through until June, down 49 per cent on the previous year and the lowest since the light rail system first launched in July 2015.
Overall, public transport usage across the Gold Coast was down 68 per cent in the past financial year.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the numbers were bleak but insisted the State Government remained committed to expanding the Gold Coast’s tram system.
“Before COVID hit we saw Gold Coasters and visitors hop on board light rail in their droves with a record 50 million trips,” he said.
“While COVID saw G:link patronage down by as much as 80 per cent, our borders are now open and with an economic recovery plan we’re starting to see people get back on board.
“The budget also locks in $2.5 million to start the business case for a future light rail link to the Gold Coast Airport, jointly-funded with council.”
This article first appeared on www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au
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