Hit the streets in support of the Gong Shuttle

Taking a stand: Chloe Rafferty handing out flyers in Crown Street ahead of this Sunday's rally to save the Gong Shuttle. Picture: Adam McLean
Taking a stand: Chloe Rafferty handing out flyers in Crown Street ahead of this Sunday's rally to save the Gong Shuttle. Picture: Adam McLean

Chloe Rafferty is maintaining the outrage over the government’s decision to bring in fares on the Gong Shuttle.

The Wollongong University Student Association president-elect is behind a community protest against the decision, which starts in Crown Street Mall at 1pm on Sunday.

When Ms Rafferty heard the news of the fare introduction last week she felt “absolute outrage”.

“It’s just one attack after another from the NSW Liberal government,” Ms Rafferty said.

“We’ve finally managed to stop them privatising a hospital in the area but they’re just determined to turn public services into for-profit, expensive user-pays services.

“So we’re going to fight this one, just like we fought the privatisation of the Shellharbour hospital.”

She said some students were on campus five days a week and it would be difficult to find the money to pay a fare on every trip.

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“It might not seem like much money to people sitting in the NSW state government but it’s a huge cost burden to introduce fees for students,” she said.

“It’s a really vital service for students, particularly at a time where we’re going through a housing crisis, where there’s high youth unemployment in the area. Having something like this service makes a huge difference in people’s lives.”

While Ms Rafferty is studying at the University of Wollongong and expected a lot of students to attend the rally, she was keen to see the general community take part.

“We want to show support to all of the users of the free Gong Shuttle service,” Ms Rafferty said.

“It’s definitely an attack on us but it’s also an attack on the pensioners who want to use it to get down to their hospital visits or people visiting family and friends at the hospital.

“We’re not being particularly targeted; if anything we want to stand together with other members of the community who are also using the service.”

Ms Rafferty said she felt the government had seriously misjudged the level of anger the decision to charge users of the Gong Shuttle.

”I think they thought we were just going to go quietly, but there’s been a massive response from the thousands of people who have signed petitions,” she said.

“I think we’ll see further actions as well, this is the student protest over the weekend but there are broad sections of the community who are angry.

“I think there’s going to be a long campaign to stop this and I think they’re going to be forced to backflip, just like they did on privatising the hospital.”

For more information on the rally visit the Facebook page, Save the Free Shuttle Bus