Government to axe its $300k ‘secret shuttle’

STAY FREE: Labor leader Luke Foley (centre) with local MPs Paul Scully and Ryan Park during a visit to Wollongong last week to announce his commitment to the free service. Picture: Adam McLean
STAY FREE: Labor leader Luke Foley (centre) with local MPs Paul Scully and Ryan Park during a visit to Wollongong last week to announce his commitment to the free service. Picture: Adam McLean

Less than six months after it began, the government could be about to scrap a $300,000 shuttle bus for senior public servants.

On Tuesday Labor leader Luke Foley revealed documents that showed the NSW government was paying $303,000 a year for a bus that senior Roads and Maritime Services staff could ride to work for free.

The free bus travels between the Roads and Maritime Services offices at Rozelle and the Sydney CBD three times a day – a distance of around five kilometres.

According to the documents, the cost of the free ride to government is around $5.50 per passenger.

That’s more than five times what the Gong Shuttle costs per passenger.

I am not happy with the cost of this service.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey

The bus started July this year – around the same time the government was deciding whether to scrap the free shuttle in Wollongong.

After being made aware of the shuttle, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey decided it was too expensive.

“I am not happy with the cost of this service,” Ms Pavey said.

“I immediately requested the department examine and determine what other options are available to ensure staff can get to and from work, including the existing light rail and bus services.

“I have spoken to the Transport Minister Andrew Constance to explore the possibility of extending a public transport service to the area.”

The minister’s move pre-empts Mr Foley’s pledge to scrap the secret shuttle if elected.

Ms Pavey also objected to Mr Foley’s characterisation of the service being a “secret shuttle just for Gladys Berejiklian’s fat cats”.

“It is incredibly offensive of Luke Foley to insult and belittle dedicated workers, accusing them of being fat cat bureaucrats, just to score cheap political points,” Ms Pavey said.

Wollongong MP Paul Scully said he wasn't aware of the government funding other free buses for the exclusive use of public servants.

“But I’m looking out for others because where there’s one there’s bound to be more,” Mr Scully said.

“When we found it we thought it was quite incredible.

“The government is trying to cut $750,000 out of Wollongong while they’re going to put on a free shuttle for a group of employees from one organisation to shuttle back and forth.”