The University of Wollongong (UOW) has offered cash to keep the Gong Shuttle free – and Wollongong City Council is set to do the same – but will the state government honour the deal?
And, if it does, will it stump up the cash needed to plug the 153-day funding gap between January 29 – the date standard Opal fares are due to come into effect on the shuttle – and the new financial year?
They are the questions Illawarra Labor MPs want answered – sooner rather than later.
Earlier this week, UOW stepped in to help resolve the Gong Shuttle impasse by vowing to contribute $350,000 per year for three years from July 1.
The university has reserved the right to withdraw its financial support if Transport for NSW changes the shuttle’s schedule or route without prior negotiation.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully called on the government to fund the gap between January 29 and June 30, saying it had already been budgeted.
“If this multi-party funding arrangement comes together, it’s a farce that we’ve had to go through this; to have two other largely-taxpayer-funded entities make up for another taxpayer-funded entity deciding to pull out,” Mr Scully said.
The Mercury put a series of questions to Transport for NSW, including if it would accept the multi-agency funding.
In response, it provided a one-line statement: “Introducing a standard Opal fare is considered the fairest way of reducing congestion on the Wollongong Shuttle and helping to spread the load across the network”.
The council will discuss its Gong Shuttle funding contribution on Monday night.