Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Gong Shuttle should go to Figtree, say Greens council candidates

Extending the Gong Shuttle south to suburbs like Figtree and Unanderra would address the "shocking" public transport availability in those suburbs, Greens Lord Mayor candidate Jess Whittaker said.

With the funding arrangement between Transport for NSW, Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong coming up for renegotiation, Ms Whittaker and Ward 2 candidate Kit Docker felt it was the right time to look at extending its reach. Ms Whittaker said her mother-in-law lives near Figtree and Mr Docker lives in the suburb and she claimed the existing public transport network in the area wasn't good. "I know that it's pretty shocking and it is very car dependent," Ms Whittaker said.

"If you want to come to Figtree you could get on your bike, if you have one, you could pay for a bus or you could drive your car.

"There is no train station and that's another driver of this policy announcement because Figtree isn't lucky enough to have a train station. The closest train stations would be in Unanderra and Coniston."

"I remember in the last council election what was talked about in Ward Three was I think it was more a shuttle between Dapto and Port Kembla, but it hasn't happened yet.

"So you need people in council with a passion to make these things happen. And as Greens, we're always advocating for more active transport, more public transport."

With the renegotiating of the funding split for the shuttle coming up, Mr Docker said it should be the responsibility of the state government. "They're the ones that have got the deep pockets," he said. "We've seen announcements from local Labor politicians - almost $400 million for the Mt Ousley interchange, $20 million for the Bulli bypass.

"Clearly they've got the means and the funding to fund this and we think that we shouldn't be stretching council, we shouldn't be stretching the university to pay for this service."

He also noted that, when the previous Liberal government had looked to axe the Gong Shuttle local Labor MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully fought to keep it. "They were very critical of the Liberal government's attempts to reduce funding and they spoke a really big game when it came to the free Gong Shuttle," Mr Docker said.
"Now they're in government, they have the power to fund this and, and provide not just the existing route but Figtree and Unanderra with certainty around funding.

"So this is their opportunity to step up and follow through on their words from before."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 2 May 2024.