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COMMUTERS COMMITTEE v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (05/12/52)

May 12, 1952

COMMUTERS COMMITTEE
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION



COUNSEL

Lois G. Forer, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Lockwood W. Fogg, Jr., Philadelphia, for Reading Co.

Lloyd S. Benjamin, Acting Counsel, John E. Fullerton, Asst. Counsel, Clarence M. Freedman, Asst. Counsel, all of Harrisburg, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold and Gunther, JJ.

Author: Rhodes

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 598]

RHODES, President Judge.

This is an appeal from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission granting Reading Company, a railroad corporation, the right to abandon all passenger service on its branch line extending from Hatboro, Montgomery County, to New Hope, Bucks County, a distance of nineteen miles. The order is expressly conditioned upon the substitution of bus service over public highways in the same general territory by Reading Transportation Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reading Company. The application of Reading Company to abandon passenger service on this line was filed with the Commission on April 26, 1951. Concurrently, Reading Transportation Company filed an application to provide transportation by motor bus in substitution for the railroad facilities to be abandoned; that applications were consolidated by the Commission for the purpose of hearing. A number of municipalities filed resolutions of protest with the Commission. Hearings were held before an examiner of the Commission at Doylestown on June 13, 1951, and August 30, 1951. A number of individuals who objected to the abandonment of the passenger service as proposed by Reading Company organized an unincorporated association entitled 'The Commuters' Committee.' Prior to the second hearing of August 30, 1951, the Commuters' Committee filed a protest with the Commission.

The Commission by its order of December 27, 1951, approved the application of Reading Company to abandon passenger service between Hatboro and New Hope conditioned upon the inauguration of bus transportation facilities and the continuance of express service by the transfer of carriage to freight train facilities as presently operated by Reading Company or to the bus facilities of Reading Transportation Company. The

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 599]

Commuters' Committee, acting through counsel, appealed to this Court, and filed a petition for supersedeas pending determination of the appeal. Hearing on the rule for supersedeas was held on February 7, 1952, and on that day we made the rule absolute.

Reading Company, intervening appellee, has moved to quash the appeal on the ground that appellant, an unincorporated association composed of residents of the area between Hatboro and New Hope served by Reading Company, is not a proper party to the proceedings authorized to take an appeal, and is not affected by the proceedings before the Commission or by the order of the Commission. The right to appeal requires that an appellant be (1) a party to the proceedings, and (2) affected thereby. Arsenal Board of Trade v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 166 Pa. Super. 548, 552, 553, 72 A.2d 612. It has been held that an unincorporated group is not a legal entity. Grant v. Carpenters' District Council of Pittsburgh and Vicinity, 322 Pa. 62, 185 A. 273. Although we recognize that an unincorporated association may prosecute an action in the name of individual members acting as trustees ad litem, and that an action may be prosecuted against it, Hasinger v. New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Co., 117 Pa. Super. 475, 178 A. 153; Rules 2152-2153 of Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. 12 P.S. Appendix, the question still arises whether appellant, apart from its members, is a proper party to appeal in the present proceedings. See Pennsylvania Commercial Drivers Conference v. Pennsylvania Milk Control Commission, 360 Pa. 477, 483, 62 A.2d 9, 12. An individual using the service rendered by the utility and filing a formal protest with the Commission may very well have such an interest as would make him or her a person affected by the Commission's order. But no individual member of the Commuters'

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 600]

Committee filed a protest with the Commission in any capacity, and the identity of those composing such Committee does not appear. Although there may be merit in intervening appellee's motion to quash, we shall not dispose of the appeal on this ground. Under the ...


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