'Tram tax' to hit trip to Burleigh Heads

A GOLD Coast councillor has told the State Government to scrap zone ticket payments for the next stage of light rail so the entire city is charged at the same rate.

Hermann Vorster says passengers getting on or off at three southern stations on the tram extension to Burleigh Heads will cough up 22 per cent more because they considered in a different zone than the rest.

He says one of the new stations, on Christine Ave, falls on the "wrong side of the tracks" by just 85m.

"The Gold Coast light rail's third stage will flop over the boundary into Zone 6 and fall victim to the same injustice as the commuters forced to pay for a two-zone journey when leaving from the Varsity Lakes Station," Cr Vorster said.

"My message to the Department of Transport is quite simple - you shouldn't be so hard-headed or hard-hearted with commuters and look at this problem.

"If they refuse to fix this, there is every chance the Burleigh tram stops will fall victim to the same southern surcharge that Varsity Lakes commuters currently have to cop."

An average Go Card fare on the existing light rail route costs $3.70, or $4.90 for a paper ticket.

Cr Hermann Vorste Picture: Tim Marsden
Cr Hermann Vorste Picture: Tim Marsden

However, Cr Vorster said the cost would jump to $4.11 and $6 respectively from the southern stations - Christine Ave, Second Ave and Burleigh Heads.

"I do not quite know how they can look commuters in the face and say it should be more expensive to travel from Burleigh Heads to Broadbeach than it is for those travelling from Broadbeach to Helensvale," he said.

"Asking these people to play up to 22 per cent more a trip may put them off using it.

"I would hate to see people dodging the Burleigh Heads stations and instead putting cars further north on the line where there is little to no capacity.

"With the stroke of a pen the Government could fix this problem and make sure people travelling alone the southern line do not have to pay more than their neighbours."

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling

The Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce said a flat fare across the tram network would incentivise passengers to use it more.

"From a Chamber of Commerce perspective there are types of community who travel along the Coast to access business," chamber president Martin Hall said.

"While there are established TransLink fare zones, it would seen to make sense to incentivise it to get more people catching the trams.

"We are in favour of anything which gets people using the businesses along the route more."

It is the latest in a push by Cr Vorster and business leaders to change the fare zones which divide the central and southern Gold Coast.

The Burleigh Heads station.
The Burleigh Heads station.

Last month the Robina councillor wrote to Department of Transport and Main Raids director general Neil Scales calling for the Varsity Lakes heavy rail station to be considered part of the same fare zone as Robina.

He accused the State Government of "price gouging" train commuters because the city's most southern station was just 4km from Robina station. However, it sits in a different public transport zone - by a mere 1.44km - meaning passengers pay more.

There are no plans to review the zone fares.
There are no plans to review the zone fares.

He argued the move would take pressure off Robina station's busy park and ride service and encourage commuters to travel from Varsity Lakes, which is set to receive a multimillion-dollar expansion of its carpark.

Department of Transport deputy director general Matthew Longlands last night said there were no current plans to review the fare zones while the focus was on building Stage 3A.

"Our focus is on designing and building stage 3A to Burleigh Heads and won't consider fares and fare zones until closer to completion," he said.

"All matters of fare policy are considered by the independent Fares Advisory Panel and we are not aware of any current review of fare zones."