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GONG SHUTTLE DEAL PROMISING…BUT WAITING FOR THE INK

June 08, 2018

Illawarra Labor MPs, Ryan Park and Paul Scully have tentatively welcomed progress in the negotiations to keep the Gong Shuttle service free, but won’t celebrate just yet – until a final deal is inked.

 

The University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council are now considering an arrangement with Transport for NSW, involving changes to the operating timetable of the Gong Shuttle service, which should see the gap in funding closed allowing the service to remain free.

 

Both the University of Wollongong and Council have agreed to make an annual financial contribution to the operation of the Gong Shuttle service, while the NSW Government continues to meet 75 per cent of the operating costs.

 

A final agreement has been thwarted in recent months as the NSW Government would not agree to the joint contributions initially proposed by the University of Wollongong and Council.

 

Mr Park and Mr Scully have worked tirelessly behind the scenes proposing options to all parties, including the driver’s representatives since November last year, when the NSW Government first announced that – without any consultation – it intended to impose Opal fares on the Gong Shuttle Service from 1 January 2018.

 

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, Gareth Ward MP, has also praised the role of Mr Park and Mr Scully in public comments.

 

Both Labor MPs commended the local community in Wollongong for forcing the NSW Government to back down on its proposal to impose Opal fares on the free Shuttle.

 

Mr Park and Mr Scully said that negotiations are moving to the final stages between the parties and hoped an agreement could be signed and sealed within days.

 

Comments attributable to Ryan Park MP:

 

“Paul Scully and I developed options for the negotiations with Transport for NSW, which, we believed would close the gap in funding and saves the Gong Shuttle service from Opal fares.

 

“We could have just walked away and said this is a problem for the Government to solve, but the free Gong Shuttle is vital to people movement in Wollongong and helping reduce congestion so we rolled up our sleeves and have tried to help close the differences between the parties.

 

“It looks like there is the potential for a final deal to be signed between the parties, which will to keep the Gong Shuttle free.”

 

Comments attributable to Paul Scully MP:

 

“Ryan Park and I have worked closely with the University of Wollongong, Wollongong City Council and the Parliamentary Secretary, Gareth Ward – representing the Government – putting forward sensible options to make minor changes to the operating timetable while saving money to keep the service in operation with minimal disruption to passengers and drivers.

 

“We need to remember that none of this would have been necessary, however, if Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance MP, had only consulted with Wollongong University, Wollongong Council and the local community before approving the plan by bureaucrats to impose Opal fares on this service.

 

“We appear very close to ‘mission accomplished’ – keeping the Gong Shuttle free and operating 7 days a week, which has always been our final objective.”

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