I don’t own a car because I can’t afford one and my driving isn’t that great so it’s best for everyone. So to get around I use public transport—the Free Gong Shuttle, the UOW GK shuttle and occasionally the Premier Illawarra bus service, taxis and trains. I also walk whenever possible. Using public transport isn’t the best thing in the world but since it’s too hard for me to save for a car at the moment, I don’t have a choice.
Public transport has its benefits—it’s environmentally friendly as there are less cars are on the road, you don’t have to worry about paying for insurance and rego, you don’t have to worry about causing accidents or where to park and it’s usually conveniently located. However it can have its downsides, but that’s to be expected, nothing is perfect.
The Free Gong Shuttle doesn’t cost any money, circles around the main spots of Wollongong (the Crown Street Mall, UOW and the hospital) and goes in both directions. However the downsides are the fact that they are usually full, you’re usually waiting 20 to 30 minutes for a bus despite its promise of coming around every 10 minutes and you don’t know when they will show up, as they are actually not on a schedule.
The UOW GK (Gwynneville Keiraville) Shuttle doesn’t cost any money either, stops at near Kooloobong and at Weerona College and Keiraview, as well as at UOW. These buses generally aren’t as full as the Free Gong Shuttle, as the general public doesn’t usually use this bus service. The UOW GK Shuttle does run on a specific schedule and sticks to it. However the downsides of the UOW GK Shuttle is the fact that it doesn’t run in the middle of the day (from 12pm to 3pm) and it drives down back streets so the ride can be quite bumpy, especially on the smaller bus.
Using the Premier Illawarra service gets you outside of the Wollongong CBD and can take you to Figtree, Shellharbour, Port Kembla, Warrawong and so on. This service does cost money and usually depends on where you are going. It also sticks to a clear schedule, however it only comes around once an hour.
Trains can get you around Wollongong and into Sydney, they also cost money but you can easily get a student ticket (remember to have your student card and a valid transport sticker on your card or a transport card so you don’t get a fine, I learnt that the hard way). I personally find the train relaxing, the only downside is sometimes the passengers (let’s just say you sometimes you come across some “characters”) and the service sometimes is late or goes down.
Taxis are the most expensive form of public transport on the list, like with the Premier Illawarra buses and trains, the cost of taxis depend on where you are going. However if it’s too late or too inconvenient to take buses, or if you can’t take them at all, taxis are the best and sometimes only option. Taxis are generally safe and there are some drivers who skills are questionable, especially with navigation, however you generally don’t have anything to worry about other than the cost. If you really want to be safe, it’s best to sit in the back seat on the passenger side—it’s closest to the curb and as far away from the driver as you can get. Also remember to take down the licence number of the driver as they legally obligated to have their licence in view.
Overall, I am grateful for and enjoy using public transport, that being said I would love my own car eventually.