It’s not just Gong Shuttle users who see the benefit of the free service – the business community is keen for it to stay as well.
A group called the Peak Bodies of the Illawarra have written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to call on her to scrap the decision to charge fares from January 29.
The group is made up of some of the key business organisations in the city – including the Illawarra Business Chamber, the Property Council of Australia, Regional Development Australia and Destination Wollongong.
While members of these bodies may not use the shuttle themselves, they recognise its value to the region.
“This successful service has revolutionised public transport in Wollongong, connecting the education precinct and Innovation Campus, the health precinct, waterfront and tourism precincts with the commercial core,” the letter stated.
“Do not penalise us for this success.
“This vital service minimises congestion, alleviates parking issues around the university, hospital, train station and CBD and encourages residents to utilise public transport.
“It also provides a lifeline for lower socio-economic members of our community who can least afford the introduction of Opal fares on this service.”
The letter also points out the free shuttle serves as a “successful marketing tool” to promote the city to visitors.
“The net benefit to the city and the state government outweighs the introduction of the Opal card to this service,” the letter states.
“On behalf of our members we urge you to reconsider this decision and keep the Gong Shuttle free.”