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More UberX drivers head to court, as Uber campaigns in NSW election

Twenty UberX drivers will face court, while Uber asks users to contact candidates to 'show support' ahead of the NSW state election.

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Twenty UberX drivers will face prosecution under the NSW Passenger Transport Act, after Transport for NSW issued 77 court attendance notices. If found in breach of the Act, the drivers could face fines of up to AU$110,000 per offence.

This is not the first time Transport for NSW has aggressively pursued the UberX ridesharing service. In January, the department announced it had issued 10 court attendance notices, with 33 infringement notices totalling AU$28,500.

While the standard Uber car, taxi and limousine services are legal in NSW, it is illegal for public drivers to participate in paid ride-sharing under the Passenger Transport Act of 1990. This means that while Uber is not breaking laws in offering the service, the drivers technically are.

A Transport spokesperson said "Maximum fines are AU$11,000 for driving without a driver's authority [essentially a license to drive public vehicles], and AU$110,000 for operating an unaccredited service and for using a vehicle which is not licensed as a public passenger vehicle."

"UberX drivers continue to be investigated for unlawful conduct," they added.

Monday also saw Uber kick off an informal "NSW Needs Uber" campaign. In an electronic mailout to customers, Uber encouraged its users to let their "local candidates know what you love about Uber, and tell them that it's time to introduce sensible ridesharing regulations."

The email linked to a blogpost from Uber that featured an interactive map. Clicking on an electorate opens a list of candiates with email and telephone contact details. The blog post, attributed to Team Uber Sydney, ends with:

Whoever is elected on 28th March will get to decide the future of ridesharing in Sydney. It is important that they hear from you, and they are put on notice that you want their support.

In the US, Uber was in the news as its CFO stepped down, citing a decision to spend more time with his family. The company is thought to be preparing for an initial public offering in the near future.

Uber Australia was asked if the company would assist any UberX drivers who were found in breach of the Act with paying any fines. Spokesperson said that the company would "always stand by [its] partners fully".

Updated 3.27 p.m. AEDT: Added comment from Uber Australia.