The NSW government has broken a promise made in its own report that the Gong Shuttle would continue as a free service.
On top of this, the government saw so much worth in the free shuttle that it was considering extending it.
In 2014 then Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian released the Illawarra Regional Transport Plan, which aimed to “address the unique challenges of the area”.
It referred to the shuttle as "popular” and pledged to keep it running.
“We will continue to operate the free shuttle bus in the Wollongong city centre, with strong patronage which continues to rise,” the transport plan stated.
This promise takes away the wiggle room the government had regarding Ms Berejiklian’s 2013 statement that the Gong Shuttle would remain “forever more”.
That statement did not specify that it would remain a free service, but the government’s 2014 transport plan does.
It also considers broadening the scope to other suburbs like Albion Park and Calderwood.
“In the medium to long term, we will investigate opportunities to provide improved bus services or a free shuttle bus that provides southern connections around Lake Illawarra,” the transport report stated.
A Transport for NSW spokesman declined to state what happened to those investigations and whether the southern suburbs can forget about getting a free shuttle.
“Introducing a standard Opal fare is now considered the fairest way of reducing congestion on the Wollongong Shuttle and helping to spread the load across the network,” the spokesman said.