Govt ignored UOW on Gong Shuttle decision

MERCURY. NEWS. pic of the new bus stop at the University of Wollongong on Northfields Ave. pic by sylvia liber. 25 July 2015
MERCURY. NEWS. pic of the new bus stop at the University of Wollongong on Northfields Ave. pic by sylvia liber. 25 July 2015

The NSW government knew charging a fare for the Gong Shuttle could cause problems for the University of Wollongong.

Despite this, it still chose not to talk to the university before making the announcement in November.

This bombshell is contained in a “sensitive” September document from Transport for NSW recommending Transport Minister Andrew Constance introduce fares on the bus from January 29 this year.

The document highlights a big risk in introducing fares  – the “potential increased demand” on the free shuttle buses run by the university.

The university runs the North Gong shuttle – linking the campus with North Wollongong station and International House – and a second free bus that runs between the campus, Gwynneville-Keiraville and the Wollongong CBD.

“Transport for NSW has not consulted with UOW about its free shuttle buses, their patronage or if additional services would be required after the introduction of fares on the Gong Shuttle,” the report stated.

The report does not make any mention of plans to consult with the university ahead of the announcement of fares on the Gong Shuttle.

Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings said Transport for NSW – with whom the university had worked with to provide the free shuttles – did not mention its plans ahead of time.

“As a longstanding partner, I would have expected to be consulted by Transport for NSW,” Professor Wellings said.

“Instead, the bureaucrats kept the university in the dark about this decision.”

Last month, the university and Wollongong City Council agreed to jointly fund any shortfall – keeping the Gong Shuttle free.

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