Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has slammed the NSW Government’s back down from previous commitments to continuing the free Gong Shuttle.
Reading from both the Illawarra Regional Transport Plan, as well as the overall Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan at Monday night’s meeting, Cr Bradbery said the shuttle had been clearly identified by the government as a linchpin linking different parts of metropolitan Wollongong.
“The free Gong Shuttle plays an important driver in Wollongong’s economy, linking the education precinct, health precinct, commercial core, waterfront precinct and Innovation Campus together as metro Wollongong,” he said.
“Metro Wollongong currently supports at least 34,000 jobs.”
“Councillors, I don’t think we can ignore the fact that the Gong Shuttle was included in these very strategic documents. This service was recognised, and the significance for the local economy is immense.”
He pointed out that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan identified metropolitan Wollongong as driving economic growth and diversification for the entire Illawarra, and specified that the free shuttle provided “an important public transport link between precincts (on average, 260,000 patrons use the service each month)”.
“[The plan says] connecting an integrating the individual precincts is central to growing the national competitiveness, to provide jobs and housing,” Cr Bradbery told the council.
The commercial core and health precincts are connected to the broader region by Wollongong railway station, while the ‘Gong Shuttle’ bus provides an important public transport link between precincts (on average, 260,000 patrons use the service each month).P18, Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan
“In other words, what the regional plan has highlighted is that Gong Shuttle is an integral part of what we require for our community and our city to work well.”
“It is an important piece of infrastructure, and to remove it from Wollongong has incredible implications.”
Cr Bradbery also questioned the government’s repeated suggestion that it was fairer to commuters in other towns to force Gong Shuttle passengers to pay.
“Where’s the big spends from the state government in our area anyway?” he said.
“There is not one piece of state government road work through the West Dapto urban land release, and the same can not be said about sections of the urban land release corridor west of Sydney.
It is just unbelievable the neglect of Wollongong by this government – I know we mightn’t vote the right way but we’re still members of this state and we still require services and this is just the final straw – ‘Let’s take that little bit away from them’.”
“The increase of wear and tear on our roads, the increase in parking, the increase in isolation of the disadvantaged in our community, the increase in congestion, the number of cars on our roads, and so on.”