The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHERIDAN
This is an action to annul, vacate and set aside certain parts of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission of January 16, 1962, and Division 1 report of the Commission of June 8, 1961, in docket MC-117968 (Sub-No. 2).
Plaintiff is Vincent Montone Transportation, Inc. (Montone), a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, with its principal office in the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
On December 4, 1958, Montone filed an application with the Interstate Commerce Commission, No. MC-117968 (Sub-No. 1) under § 207 of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C.A. § 307, for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing operation, in interstate or foreign commerce, as a common carrier by motor vehicle, over irregular routes, of trailers, semitrailers, trailer and semitrailer chassis, other than those designed to be drawn by passenger automobiles, including component parts thereof, and aluminum boxes or van bodies when moving with such trailers, except commodities requiring special equipment, in initial movements, in truckaway service, between the Highway Trailer Company (shipper) plant in Hazle Township, Luzerne County, Pa., on the one hand, and, on the other, points in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. An order of the Commission, dated April 1, 1960, based on findings of Division 1 of the same date,
granted the application, except for the aluminum boxes or van bodies. The Commission found there was no need for the transportation of these because the shipper was not in production and was unable to estimate when production would begin. This part of the application was denied.
On July 14, 1959, Montone filed another application with the Commission, No. MC-117968 (Sub-No. 2) under § 207 of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C.A. § 307, for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing operation in interstate or foreign commerce as a common carrier by motor vehicle, over irregular routes, of van bodies and cargo containers. Montone sought this authority over the same area, to wit: the site of the Highway Trailer Company plant in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania, to the same 23 States and the District of Columbia covered by the original certificate (MC-117968-Sub-No. 1).
A hearing was held on the application before an examiner of the Commission. Nine motor carriers opposed the application. The examiner recommended that plaintiff receive the authority to transport cargo shipping containers from the shipper's plant site to the 23 States and the District of Columbia. By an order of June 8, 1961, the Commission, Division 1
granted the application, except that Montone was denied authority to transport to Fair Haven, Vermont; New York City; Hudson Falls and Glens Falls, New York; points in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, Rockland, Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties, New York; and points in Essex, Union, Bergen, Passaic, Middlesex, Hudson and Hunterdon Counties, New Jersey; and those points in New Jersey within 15 miles of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Commission denied Montone's application to these points and places because it found Karn's Transfer, Inc. (Karn's) and Arrow Carrier Corporation (Arrow), two of the protestants, held territorial authority and were able to meet at least part of the shipper's needs.
Montone filed a petition for reconsideration. On January 16, 1962, the entire Commission denied the petition 'for the reason that the findings of Division 1 are in accordance with the evidence and the applicable law.' On March 12, 1962, this court granted plaintiff's application for a temporary restraining order against the Commission.
Plaintiff contends that the limitations imposed on the authority granted it were made without substantial evidence to support them, and that they involve errors of law, or are so manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable as to transcend the power conferred upon the Commission. Defendants answer that the Commission has wide discretion to grant or deny applications for new route authority; and that the partial denial of Montone's application was supported by adequate findings and substantial record evidence and was a lawful exercise of the Commission's discretion.
Section 207(a) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C.A. § 307(a) provides:
'* * * a certificate shall be issued to any qualified applicant therefor authorizing the whole or any part of the operations covered by the application * * * if it is found * * * that the proposed service * * * is or will be, required by the present or future public convenience and necessity; otherwise such application shall be denied: * * *.' The Commission has wide discretion in deciding whether additional motor service would serve public convenience and necessity. Interstate Commerce Commission v. Parker, 1945, 326 U.S. 60, 65, 65 S. Ct. 1490, 89 L. Ed. 2051. The burden is on the applicant to prove that the proposed service is required by present or future public convenience and necessity. Sinett v. United States, D.N.J. 1955, 136 F.Supp. 37, 40. The Commission is not bound to accept the examiner's findings. It is required to make its own findings based on the evidence. Id. A reviewing court will not disturb an order of the Commission if the order is within the Commission's statutory authority and is based upon adequate findings which are supported by substantial evidence. Northwest Bancorporation v. Board of Governors, Etc., 8 Cir.1962, 303 F.2d 832. 'The judicial function is exhausted when there is found to be a rational basis for the conclusions approved by the administrative body.' Mississippi Valley Barge Line Co. v. United States, 1934, 292 U.S. 282, 286, 54 S. Ct. 692, 694, 78 L. Ed. 1260. While the discretion of the Commission is wide, it is not boundless.
In Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 1962, 371 U.S. 156, 167, 83 S. Ct. 239, 9 L. Ed. 2d 207, the Supreme Court said:
'The Commission must exercise its discretion under § 207(a) within the bounds expressed by the standard of 'public convenience and necessity.' Compare id., at 91, 73 S. Ct. at 1002, 97 L. Ed. 1470. And for the courts to determine whether the agency has done so, it must 'disclose the basis of its order' and 'give clear indication that it has exercised the discretion with which Congress has empowered it.' Phelps Dodge Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 313 U.S. 177, 197, 61 S. Ct. 845, 854, 85 L. Ed. 1271. The agency must make findings that support its decision, and those findings must be supported by substantial evidence. Interstate Commerce Com'n v. J-T Transport Co., 368 U.S. 81, 93, 82 S. Ct. 204, 211, 7 L. Ed. 2d 147; United States v. Carolina Freight Carriers Corp., 315 U.S. 475, 488-489, 62 S. Ct. 722, 729, 86 L. Ed. 971; United States v. Chicago, M., St. P. & P.R. Co., 294 U.S. 499, 511, 55 S. Ct. 462, 79 L. Ed. 1023. Here the Commission made no findings specifically directed to the choice between two vastly different remedies with vastly different consequences to the carriers and the public. Nor did it articulate any rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.'
Cargo shipping containers are used for loading commodities on ships at dockside and are sold to distributors, steamship lines and trucking and freight companies. Thus, the limitations placed on Montone are significant because the points excluded from its certificate roughly embrace the areas around New York, Newark and Philadelphia, which are major ports. The Commission found that Montone offered improved service, but refused to authorize the service in the areas served by Karn's and Arrow. In its Sub-No. 2 report the Commission stated: