Editorial November 10 2017

It has taken over a week for the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra to deliver a response to his government’s decision to sting passengers on the Gong Shuttle as of the new year.

While the region united in our disgust at the move, Gareth Ward remained silent.  He was on leave last week and on his return this week he’s been unable to deliver anything on the biggest issue facing the region he is charged with caring for.

On Wednesday, he released a prepared statement. It’s simply not good enough. Given he will not answer our questions we thought it appropriate to share with you some of the things we would have liked to ask. Including, but not limited to: 

  • How much does it cost each year to fund the free Shuttle?
  •  Who made the decision to introduce fares to the service?
  •  Will the NSW Government be investing more money into Wollongong hospital parking now that it has removed one of the main incentives for catching public transport there?
  • Will the NSW Government fund improvements to roads in metropolitan Wollongong now that it's removed an incentive for people to use public transport?
  • Will the NSW Government fund improvements to the South Coast rail line now that it's removed an incentive for people to use public transport?
  • The government's own strategic plan for the Illawarra and Shoalhaven identifies the free Shuttle as an important connection between the different precincts in metropolitan Wollongong. Has the government considered how removing an incentive for people to use public transport to travel between these precincts will affect this area?
  • How does the NSW Government expect overseas and interstate tourists from cruise ships to use the shuttle on January 29? Where should they get their Opal card?
  • Mr Ward, you were "thrilled" to announce that the NSW government had secured "exclusive matches" between Wigan and Hull for Wollongong and Sydney. We've got thousands of tourists coming to the area and tourism bosses say the free shuttle was part of the strategy for moving these people around?
  • Parramatta has population of 200,000, like Wollongong. Why isn't Parramatta's free shuttle having fares introduced?