THE $1.2 billion Gold Coast light rail system will take its first public passengers on July 20, with a day of free travel marking the milestone event.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson confirmed the date while visiting the city yesterday, saying all the project’s stakeholders were now satisfied the launch could go ahead.

“The wait is finally over, and after three years of design and construction works the Gold Coast will have a world-class public transport option,” he said.

Will you take advantage of the free travel on July 20?

TICKETING AND TIMETABLE FOR LIGHT RAIL REVEALED

“Trams will run every 7½ minutes to Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach and I encourage everyone to jump on board.”

Fourteen trams will operate between 16 stations across the 13km route, with the end-to-end journey from the Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach estimated to take 37 minutes.

GoldLinQ has advertised that the service will operate from 5am to 11.50pm Monday to Thursday and 24 hours throughout Friday and Saturday.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson has announced a launch date for the

Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson has announced a launch date for the light rail. Picture: JERAD WILLIAMS

Graham Downie, who has owned the popular Surfers Paradise restaurant and bar Charlies for 32 years, said the best thing about the start of light rail operations was the end to road works associated with the project.

“The road works associated with the light rail have affected all of us,” he said.

“Several businesses have closed and others are hanging on by a thread.”

“We were hit by the Cavill Mall work as well.”

“So I’m glad it is all over and that business should go back to normal.”

Broadbeach Alliance chief executive officer Jan McCormick said she expected an increase in business for Surfers, Broadbeach and Southport when the trams were operating.

“This will give people options about where they can stay when they come to the Gold Coast,” she said.

“It is not just about locals.”

“Visitors who have something on at the Gold Coast Convention Centre will just as easily be able to stay in Surfers Paradise now.”

Griffith University students Anneleise Woodman and Cameron Harrison try out the the light

Griffith University students Anneleise Woodman and Cameron Harrison try out the the light rail with their surf boards on the Gold Coast. Pic by Luke Marsden.

Mr Emerson said the trams would be tested for a final two weeks before taking passengers on board.

“I want to thank businesses and residents for their ongoing patience during the construction phase,” he said.

The Government will also press the button on a new bus timetable for the city on July 21, which will feed into the tram and train network — including several high-frequency routes.

The announcement follows weeks of speculation over the starting time, which was originally set for early June.

Mr Emerson said the light rail system was key to the Government’s plan to get more people using public transport on the Gold Coast.

“The light rail provides an easy-to-use, frequent service,” he said.

Details about free travel on July 20, along with fares and timetable information will be published at translink.com.au.

More information is also available by telephoning 13 12 30.

Originally published as It’s official – the light rail will finally launch

Gold Coast Bulletin – 06 July 2014