Bondi View

Critics slam tram but Betts is on board

Early concept drawing of the light rail at Bondi Rd and Denham St. Image: supplied

Waverley Council is investigating the feasibility of a light rail corridor from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach in the next 10 to 15 years, amid community concern about its potential impact on local businesses and amenity.

A feasibility study commissioned by Council and undertaken by transport consultancy group AECOM proposed three possible route options within a strategic light rail network.

Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said it was disappointing to see bipartisan support for light rail no longer existed.

“We believe that we need to provide better and more efficient public transport to encourage the community to leave their cars at home,” she said.

“Light rail is one way we can make sure we can move people from the beach to the junction efficiently.”

But Labor Councillor Ingrid Strewe said trams could not be “squeezed into Waverley’s narrow streets”.

“They may run on some narrow streets in say Melbourne, but the main routes are wide. Surely if the routes – Old South Head Road and Bondi Road – are at capacity, you need to pick up an alternative route to take pressure off these routes?” she asked.

“Trams also must have a capacity – what happens when that is reached? I would look at double-decker buses (they used to run on this route) or a metro (underground and manoeuverable unlike heavy rail) serving the whole community not just the beach.”

Gavin Gatenby, co-convenor of the public transport lobby group EcoTransit, disagreed and said there would be many benefits of a light rail network from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach.

“The main benefit of having light rail is that you can double the capacity of buses, ensuring greater return on investment. In addition, light rail is much cleaner,” he said.

“EcoTransit supports a light rail going down to Bondi and the Eastern Suburbs. We see a future for light rail running up Oxford St and connecting with the CBD to Eastern Suburbs light rail” .

But Bondi Chamber of Commerce board member Max Siano said any light rail along Bondi Road would be a disaster for small business.

“There are 148 businesses along Bondi Road and 252 car spaces. Light rail will mean a double clearway on Bondi Road which will mean no one will be able to park anymore,” he said.

“This is a sensitive shopping strip. Business owners believe this will decimate the Bondi Road shopping strip.”

Mr Siano suggested a ferry service and shuttle bus from Rose Bay wharf could be established to provide alternative transport from Rose Bay to Bondi Beach via O’Sullivan Road.

“This would reduce congestion on Bondi Road,” he said. “The traffic problems are mainly in summer time, on weekends and on public holidays.”

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