Appeal, No. 182, Oct. T., 1955, from orders of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, dated Feb. 24, 1955 and Dec. 6, 1954, Registration Docket No. 16102, in case of John G. Schuster, trading as Schuster's Bus Lines, v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Order reversed.
W. G. Johnstone, Jr., with him Windolph & Johnstone, for appellant.
Harris J. Latta, Jr., Assistant Counsel, with him Thomas M. Kerrigan, Acting Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.
Calvin J. Friedberg, with him Hicks, Williamson, Friedberg & Jones, for intervening appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ.
[ 179 Pa. Super. Page 554]
East Penn Transportation Company filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission a complaint charging that John G. Schuster, trading and doing business as Schuster's Bus Lines, and hereinafter referred to as Schuster, "did on or about March 11, 1954, transport a group or party of persons from a certificated point beyond the borough limits of the Borough of St. Clair, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and terminated said service within the Borough of St. Clair ... without first obtaining the required certificate of public convenience from the Commission (italics supplied)". Following the filing of an answer by Schuster, a hearing was held at which testimony was offered by both parties.
The record discloses that, on March 11, 1954, at about 6:30 p.m., three Schuster buses transported persons to the Hershey Sports Arena where the basketball team of St. Clair High School was engaged in a play-off game. One bus loaded its passengers in Arnout's Addition which is located in New Castle Township, Schuylkill County. The Commission states in its brief that "no special significance was attached to that portion of the movement". The other two buses were loaded at the Penkunas Hotel which, it was agreed, is in East Norwegian Township, immediately adjacent to the boundary line of the Borough of St. Clair. On the return trip from Hershey one bus discharged its full load at the Penkunas Hotel. The other bus discharged a part of its load at the hotel, and then
[ 179 Pa. Super. Page 555]
continued on into St. Clair and Arnout's Addition, discharging the remaining passengers along the way in both communities. The buses in question were chartered by one Frank Semonavage approximately two weeks prior to the trip. Persons who boarded the buses at the Penkunas Hotel came to that point by taxi, private automobiles, and on foot.
In its order, the Commission stated that "We are confronted here with determining whether the situation presented constitutes an ingenious but permissible avoidance of the limitations of respondent's certificate of public convenience, or a deliberate and unlawful attempt to evade the Public Utility Law. The record inclines us to the latter conclusion". The Commission accordingly found: "(1) That the transportation service complained of in this proceeding, viz., from a point immediately adjacent to the Borough of St. Clair to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and return to St. Clair constituted a single connected and continuing movement; (2) that respondent arranged to and did on March 11, 1954, transport a group or party of persons from St. Clair, or a point immediately adjacent thereto, to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and upon return discharged passengers at a point or points immediately adjacent to and in St. Clair without requisite authority of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and in violation of the Public Utility Law". The order entered was (a) that the complaint be sustained; (b) that Schuster pay to the Commonwealth the sum of $50.00; and (c) that Schuster cease and desist from the transportation of persons in group and party service except as heretofore authorized. A petition for reconsideration was denied, and this appeal followed.
Appellant's certificated rights, in so far as they are here material, authorize him "To transport groups or parties of persons, ...