Transport: From cream cans and campers to city centres and commuters
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This chapter explores the history of transport provision on the Gold Coast. As a city that experienced most of its growth in the golden age of the motor car, the Coast is synonymous with the motoring way of life. But its transport planning history is more complex. Transport accessibility and transport policy – or lack of it- have played a major role in shaping the Gold Coast over time. Several of the most important centres and suburbs established their dominance in a period when transport was mainly by water. Later, the Coast’s collection of towns, resorts and early suburbs developed around a rail corridor that was removed, then replaced decades later on an inferior alignment. In the period between the two Gold Coast railways, the city was shaped by cars and roads so that today it is a sprawling car-dependent city. Despite attempts to re-image the city with light rail investment, the Cold Coast has been closely associated with cars, from Mayor Bruce Small’s Meter Maids of the 1960s, through the motel strip of the Gold Coast Highway, to the Indy-Car and A1 Grand Prix car races of recent decades.
In this city of over half a million people, 88% of all daily trips are today made by car, while only 3% are by public transport. Fewer than 2% of trips are by bicycle, and only7% are by walking (City of Gold Coast 2013b). The figures are all the more startling for a city in which tourism and lifestyle-oriented activities are economic pillars. Beach tourists like to walk or cycle, yet these modes have been poorly addressed here until recently. This chapter describes how the Gold Coast reached this level of care-dependency, via a chronological exploration of the relationship between transport decisions and the settlement pattern over the past century and a half. The chapter concludes by considering future prospects for how the Gold Coast might be shaped by current transport policy documents of the Gold Coast city council and the Queensland Government.
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