Fares could slow down the Gong Shuttle

go slow: Forcing people to pay fares on the Gong Shuttle - or even tap on and off with an Opal card - could slow down the service and blow out the timetable. Picture: Georgia Matts
go slow: Forcing people to pay fares on the Gong Shuttle - or even tap on and off with an Opal card - could slow down the service and blow out the timetable. Picture: Georgia Matts

Introducing fares on the Gong Shuttle will result in the buses running late in peak times, according to a former University of Wollongong transport manager.

Last week the government dropped the bombshell that adult Opal fares would be charged on the Gong Shuttle from January 29 to push people onto other services.

Tom Hunt served as the UOW manager for transport projects for six years.

His role included looking at measures to reduce the impact of student and staff traffic on the surrounding suburbs.

The Gong Shuttle, which formed a part of the UOW’s transport strategy, would suffer if the government went through with its plan to introduce fares.

“It will slow the service down,” Mr Hunt said.

“By having to take fares that means it will slow down people getting on and off. The bus is already on an over-tight schedule. The bus drivers often race to stay on their schedule because they have a very tight schedule to get around.”

While Mr Hunt suggested the government’s plan to charge full fares would “kill” the service, it could look to a break-even proposition to fund the shuttle – which is estimated to cost $3.5 million a year.

“By having to take fares that means it will slow down people getting on and off.

Former UOW transport officer Tom Hunt

“If they did want to put fares on the service, what would be a reasonable compromise is if they charged a set fee of a dollar per trip,” he said.

READ MORE: The story of the Gong Shuttle

READ MORE: A ‘slap in the face’ for Wollongong

“That would just about cover the costs with 3.3 mill trips per year.

“It would also encourage everyone to get an Opal card and start using other public transport services around town, which are so poorly used.”

Meanwhile, Illawarra MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully have written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian urging her to come to Wollongong.

"Anger on the streets of Wollongong is absolutely red-hot,” Mr Scully said. “No-one supports this decision.”

Mr Park said it was time for Ms Berejiklian to step in.

“The government must reverse this outrageous decision,” Mr Park said.

“It’s now clear that the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance intends to ignore the level of anger in Wollongong since last Wednesday.

“The Premier must take charge of this issue and overrule the arrogance of her minister.”