Surveying Gong Shuttle usage for just three days was the evidence the government used to justify the introduction of fares.
While Transport for NSW had admitted it surveyed Gong Shuttle users, it has always declined to release details of that survey.
Through a freedom of information request, the Illawarra Mercury received a copy of the survey which was carried out by Sydney-based researchers in March 2017.
The survey covered just three days – Tuesday, March 21, and the weekend of March 25-25.
Researchers rode the buses on Tuesday and Saturday to count passengers and interviewed passengers on all three days – for a total of 1734 interviews.
An internal Transport for NSW report on the survey results found the weekday peak times were 8-9am for the shuttles running in both directions, and 1-5pm for the anti-clockwise route and 3-7pm for the clockwise route.
During these times the Gong Shuttle “is either just under the legal maximum seating and standing capacity and above the maximum seating capacity, or above both limits”, the report stated.
Based on the interviews, 65 per cent of users are full-time university students. Contrary to popular assumption, less than 5 per cent of Gong Shuttle riders were unemployed.
The busiest stops on the route were at the University of Wollongong, Wollongong and Keira high schools and Elliotts Road, Fairy Meadow.
Education is the top reason for travel on weekdays, accounting for 60 per cent of riders.
On weekends, it’s shopping which accounts for 46 per cent.