Doubts over Gong Shuttle shuffle plan

For some trips, The Gong Shuttle is the fastest - and sometimes only - bus that commuters can catch to get to their destination. Picture: Georgia Matts
For some trips, The Gong Shuttle is the fastest - and sometimes only - bus that commuters can catch to get to their destination. Picture: Georgia Matts

Charging a fare on the Gong Shuttle won’t see users move to other buses, said a former university transport manager.

This is because only the Gong Shuttle runs between some key locations.

Tom Hunt served as the transport projects manager at University of Wollongong where he saw the effect of the Gong Shuttle first-hand.

He criticised the government’s claims that Gong Shuttle fares will help to “spread the passenger load across the network”.

“The vast majority of people do not catch the shuttle in place of other services, as is claimed,” Mr Hunt said.

“They catch it because there are no better services on their route.

“That is very simple to prove. Go to Trip Planner or any other similar phone app and seek the quickest public transport trip between any of the stops on the Gong Shuttle route –  or nearly anywhere around Wollongong –  and see how often it offers you an alternative.”

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Mr Hunt also said a fare should only be 25 cents per trip, given the government claims it carried around 3 million passenger a year and costs $3 million annually.

“They also say that for public transport across the state, the state government subsidises 75 per cent of the cost,” Mr Hunt said.

“So the cost of running the service is an average of $1 per trip.

“For equity with other services 75 per cent of the fare should be subsidised and the fare should be 25 cents per trip.”

Transport for NSW declined to state whether anything other than full fares were considered.

“Introducing a standard Opal fare was considered the fairest way of reducing congestion on the Wollongong Shuttle and helping to spread the load across the network,” a spokesman said.