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PEOPLES CAB CO. v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. (01/21/58)

January 21, 1958

PEOPLES CAB CO., APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION.



Appeal, No. 179, April T., 1957, from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, July 8, 1957, Investigation Docket No. 21, in case of Peoples Cab Co. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and The Yellow Cab Company of Pittsburgh, intervening appellee. Order of commission, as modified, affirmed.

COUNSEL

Harland I. Casteel, with him Clyde P. Bailey, Campbell, Houck & Thomas, and Weller, Wicks & Wallace, for appellant.

Ralph S. Sapp, Assistant Counsel, with him Thomas M. Kerrigan, Acting Counsel, for appellee, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Gilbert Nurick, with him Harold E. McCamey, Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote, Reif & Robinson, and McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for intervening appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Ervin

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 630]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

Upon its own motion, the Commission initiated this proceeding on May 19, 1952 by an order directing "an inquiry and investigation ... into ... the financial condition, the operating methods, and the method of financing the acquisition of new equipment of Peoples Cab Company; and further to determine whether because of violations of the Public Utility Law the certificate of public convenience held by Peoples Cab Company should be cancelled or other penalties invoked.

The predecessor of Peoples Cab Co. (hereinafter called "Peoples") originally came into being by virtue of an order of the Commission entered February 18, 1947. Yellow Cab Company of Pittsburgh (hereinafter called "Yellow") opposed the application of Peoples before the Commission and appealed from the above order. This Court affirmed the Commission on July 17, 1947 in an opinion written by President Judge RHODES, 161 Pa. Superior Ct. 41, 54 A.2d 301. Reference to that opinion will reveal that the quality and quantity of taxicab service then being furnished by Yellow in the City of Pittsburgh was "wholly inadequate

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 631]

    to meet the demands of the public." The predecessor of Peoples became bankrupt in 1949. On March 27, 1950 the Commission approved the transfer of a certificate of public convenience from the receiver in bankruptcy to William H. Rothman. On January 8, 1951 the Commission approved the transfer of the certificate of public convenience from Rothman to Peoples. From then until May 1, 1952 Peoples operated the taxicab business in the normal, conventional manner. It suffered financial difficulties and on May 1, 1952 Peoples initiated its first driver incentive plan for the purpose of eliminating careless driving and excessive costs of operation. Peoples produced profits between the years 1952 and 1956. During this period of time the driver incentive plan was going through an evolutionary process. At the last hearings before the Commissioner in the spring of 1956, Peoples had in operation two plans. The first was a conventional one under which drivers were compensated a flat 47 per cent of fares received, had no ownership or equity in the taxicab, which was owned by Peoples, and Peoples paid all of the operating expenses. Only six of the drivers worked under this plan and they were not permitted to work during the peak period from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Ninety-seven men were operating under the "single incentive plan." A driver entered this plan by signing a written sales agreement in which Peoples agreed to sell to him and he agreed to buy a new taxicab. At the time of signing the purchase agreement he paid $265.00 down. Title was to be delivered to him at the end of 48 months. He had the custody of the cab and kept it at his home. Peoples could not assign his cab to any other driver. If the relationship was terminated before the end of the four-year period, he could complete purchase of the cab by making a final payment specified in a schedule contained

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 632]

    in the agreement. If he elected not to complete the purchase, he was to receive a refund during the first year of $150.00, second year $85.00, third year $57.00 and fourth year $28.00. The driver was obliged to pay to Peoples a weekly minimum "book" ...


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