Chauffeur-driven hire cars in NSW will no longer be able to use bus lanes following the state government's decision to roll the industry into a new all-encompassing category of 'point to point' transport operators.
The government's Transport for NSW department no longer issues the white-on-black HC plates and licences required by chauffeured vehicles, although there are still 1,548 HC plates in use as of September 2018.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "changes from 1 July 2020 to the Road Rules 2014, amending rule 158, will mean vehicles with HC plates will no longer have access to bus lanes."
Hire cars will join taxis, airport/hotel shuttle buses, mini-vans and rideshare services such as Uber in a common 'point to point' transport system.
"Hire cars remain a crucial part of the NSW transport system, but it is unviable to keep things the way they were," Transport for NSW says, adding that "that the hire car industry is facing fundamental challenges from changing customer expectations and new technologies."
"These changes were recommended by the Point to Point Transport Taskforce to bring the legislation for the hire car industry into the 21st century and to free up the industry so that it can compete more effectively in providing a great service for customers."
Despite the winding back of HC plates, a spokeswoman for Uber scotched reports that the company planned to close its HC-based Uber Black service in NSW and merge this with the broader Uber Select program.
"Uber will continue to offer a premium service for our customers who have these requirements," Uber spokeswoman Nicky Preston told Australian Business Traveller. "There are no current plans to close down Uber Black."