The region’s peak business advocacy organisation, Business Illawarra, has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement that it will extend the operation of the free Gong Shuttle bus service until at least 30 June 2024, and in doing so, preserve a vital means of transport in and around the Wollongong central business district.
According to Business Illawarra, both Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong are to be commended for continuing to contribute to the cost of operating the shuttle, despite the financial pressures faced as a result of COVID-19.
Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the decision was a win for businesses and the community alike, with the benefits of the free Gong Shuttle far outweighing the expense.
“We’ve been working to support discussions between the University, Council and government to extend the life of the Gong Shuttle, which is so important to the functioning of our city, and are very pleased to see agreement reached and ongoing arrangements announced today,” said Mr Zarth.
“Aside from providing a ready means for students, tourists and pensioners to navigate the city, the shuttle service reduces traffic and parking congestion and allows people to access local businesses and get to their place of employment more easily and affordably.”
“Business Illawarra has been a long-standing advocate of this service, as it enjoys significant support among our membership and in the community more widely.”
“It is good to see the government honour a commitment made by the Premier as Transport Minister in 2013 that the shuttle would continue forever more, and this will be positively received by the more than three million people who use the service each year.”
“While there have been minor adjustments made to the Saturday scheduling in order to ensure the efficient operation of the service, I am confident that they will have minimal impact on the community.”
From July 3 this year, the Shuttle will run from 9.40am to 5.20pm on Saturday, instead of 8am to 6pm, as it did previously.