Just over 12 months on from the funding lifeline provided by the University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council to save the Gong Shuttle from full fares, figures show the service is as popular as ever.
Wollongong MP, Paul Scully asked the Minister for Transport and Roads, Andrew Constance MP, to provide him with updated passenger journeys for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 (up to 30 May 2010) financial years.
The figures show that there were 3.35 million passenger boardings on the Gong Shuttle in the 2017-18 financial year and an estimated 2.78 million have used the service in the last financial year up to May 2019.
Mr Scully and Member for Keira, Ryan Park MP, spearheaded a community campaign to oppose the Berejiklian Government’s surprise plan, announced last November, to impose full Opal fares on the free Shuttle service from 1 January this year.
Thousands of local residents signed a petition supported by the Illawarra Mercury and held a community protest in the Crown Street Mall.
The two MPs worked the University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council in developing the funding arrangement, which was finally signed on 26 June 2018.
Under the arrangement, Transport for NSW continue to meet 75 per cent of the Shuttle service’s operational cost, while the University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council contribute the remainder of funds over the next three years.
Comments attributable to Paul Scully MP:
“The statistics don’t lie – the free Gong Shuttle is as popular as ever.
“This completely justifies the strong position our community took to save the Shuttle and my thanks again go to our local community for taking a stand.
“People power won the day last year when we as a community took on the Berejiklian Government and forced it to listen to our fierce grassroots campaign to save our Free Gong Shuttle service.
“Over 3.35 million passenger boardings in the 2017-18 financial year and on a comparable basis it should be around the same number of passenger boardings during the last financial year.
“It’s great to see that the free Gong Shuttle just keeps moving people around the City of Wollongong as it was intended when the former NSW Labor Government first introduced the service in 2009.”