Free shuttle bus skips Shellharbour stop

Wollongong's popular free bus shuttle, introduced in 2009.
Wollongong's popular free bus shuttle, introduced in 2009.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson says the southern Illawarra is set to miss out on a free shuttle bus similar to the one operating in Wollongong.

Ms Watson said on Friday  Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian had rejected her request to provide money for a feasibility study into a free Shellharbour City shuttle bus.

The minister’s response was that ‘‘the government has no plans to introduce additional free shuttle buses’’, Ms Watson said.

She said the government’s Illawarra Regional Transport Plan released in March had highlighted the need for another free shuttle bus, classing it as a medium to long-term priority.

“It just confirms that the Illawarra Regional Transport Plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,’’ Ms Watson said.

“One would logically think that if the state government said in March it had medium to long-term ambitions to investigate the opportunity to introduce a free shuttle bus service, the minister would have no problem funding a feasibility study to see if it’s viable.’’

However, Mrs Berejiklian said the government was still committed to the idea of a free shuttle bus.

‘‘As outlined in the Regional Transport Plan, in the medium to long term, the NSW government will investigate more opportunities to provide improved bus services or a free shuttle bus connecting the growing areas of Shellharbour, Albion Park, Calderwood, Warrawong and West Dapto with Wollongong,’’ Mrs Berejiklian said.

‘‘This has not changed.’’

Ms Watson also queried why two new bus services for the area were not yet up and running.

In the last state budget, the government promised two new bus routes - from Flinders to Shellharbour and Dapto to the university.

However, Ms Watson said on Friday these routes were still ‘‘in limbo’’ after the government said in Parliament that Transport for NSW was still in discussion with the bus route provider.

Mrs Berejiklian said the government had already funded these routes as well as a third between Brooks Reach and Dapto earlier this year.

‘‘Transport for NSW is working with local councils and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, to monitor population growth and transport demand in the region and investigate opportunities to provide improved services around Lake Illawarra, taking in the growing areas of Shellharbour, Albion Park, Calderwood and West Dapto,’’ she said.

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