Mac Point funding spurs northern suburbs plan

The federal government’s funding announcement for Hobart’s Macquarie Point precinct has prompted the state government to talk about plans for rapid bus and ferry expansion, which could mean a wider cycleway and more bike parking.

The Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure, Michael Ferguson, has confirmed the northern suburbs rail corridor will be upgraded for rapid buses and a Hobart transit centre will be established.

The most recent feasibility study into the corridor in 2020 found that the cycleway could be widened to 4 metres (from 3 metres) regardless of the public transport mode chosen.

A rapid bus system could also include stations with secure bicycle parking, hire bikes and scooters to connect further into the northern suburbs.

The feasibility study modelled 10 stations from MONA/Berriedale through to the Hobart city centre, but didn’t nominate a location for the central station.

Map of where 9 potential rapid bus systems stations could be along the northern suburbs rail corridor

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, said on Hobart radio that the federal funding depended on the state government providing plans for the corridor, housing and an upgrade of Macquarie Wharf 6 for the berthing of the Antarctic Division ship RSV Nuyina.  

The 9 May federal budget shows the $240 million in funding for the precinct starts in the coming financial year and ramps up over four years, finishing in the 2027-28 financial year.

The federal government has already pledged $20 million for infrastructure to help the state government create more ferry stops along the river.

The Derwent Ferries service includes bike parking at the Bellerive terminal and allows passengers to bring bikes on board at no extra cost.

Bicycle Network has consistently advocated that any ferry terminal or bus park-and-rides and stations/transit centres should have secure bike parking to expand the passenger catchment.

Minister Ferguson says planning for more ferries, rapid buses and active transport are underway:

“The fact is, the ferry is such a winner that we announced last year we would expand the service to other locations along the river under a Derwent Ferry Masterplan," he says.

"We will also work in partnership with our local and national counterparts to develop a new integrated Bus Rapid Transit Network, with rapid buses to service our major growth corridors, allowing people to move around quickly and comfortably.

The minister says rapid buses are the preferred mode for the Northern Suburbs Transit Corridor, from Glenorchy to the City, while a new Bus Transit Centre will be built in Hobart close to both Macquarie Point and the city centre.

“Combined with investment in active transport corridors to provide more direct and safe links from Hobart’s suburbs to the city, it is clear our renewed and revitalised transport network will deliver the extra capacity and attractive options to get people to and from the exciting Macquarie Point precinct,” Mr Ferguson says.