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PORT AUTHORITY ALLEGHENY COUNTY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (07/02/81)

decided: July 2, 1981.

PORT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLANT (APPELLANT IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT)
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, APPELLEE (APPELLEE IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT) COLONIAL TAXI COMPANY, INC., ET AL., INTERVENORS



Nos. 197, 198, 199, 200 and 201 March Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at Docket Nos. 1846, 1847, 1848, 2104 and 2436 C.D. 1977, entered July 19, 1979

COUNSEL

Robert M. Brown, Dennis L. Veraldi, James H. Norris, Ruffin, Hazlett, Snyder, Brown & Jack, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

George M. Kaski, Chief Counsel, Joseph J. Malatesta, Jr., Deputy Chief Counsel, Daniel P. Delaney, Asst. Counsel, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Richard S. Dorfzaun, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, Pittsburgh, for Yellow Cab Co. of Pittsburgh.

William A. Gray, Wick, Vuono & Lavelle, Pittsburgh, for Open Doors etc.

Arthur J. Diskin, Pittsburgh, for North Hills Green Cab, et al. and Colonial Taxi Company, Inc., et al.

Jerome Solomon, Brandt, Milnes, Rea & Malone, John A. Pillar, Pittsburgh, for Tube City Taxicab Co., Inc., et al.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Kauffman

[ 494 Pa. Page 252]

OPINION

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court affirming the orders of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ("PUC") granting to intervenors, five companies in Allegheny County, the right to provide paratransit service.*fn1 At issue is whether the PUC has been divested of jurisdiction over paratransit within Allegheny County by the Second Class County Port Authority Act ("Port Authority Act"), Act of April 6, 1956, P.L. 1414, as amended, 55 P.S. ยงยง 551-563.5, which grants to appellant, the Port Authority of Allegheny County ("Port Authority"), exclusive jurisdiction over the transportation system within Allegheny County.*fn2

Paratransit consists largely of rider-sharing service performed under contracts with organizations aiding the elderly or handicapped. Transportation is reserved in advance, and the individuals are picked up at their homes and driven to their destinations in vehicles not reserved for individual use having a seating capacity of not less than seven nor more than fifteen passengers including the driver. When ready to return, they call the paratransit operator and a van is dispatched. In addition, members of the public, whether handicapped or able-bodied, may reserve a van for transportation to and from their homes and various destinations, not including the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. Neither the routes nor the schedules are fixed, and unlike group and party service which entails picking up a group of people already assembled at one point and transporting them to a central location, paratransit passengers are received and discharged at different points. The individual passengers, as well as the social service organizations, pay a rate determined on an hourly or mileage basis.

[ 494 Pa. Page 253]

The issue presented here arose when the intervenors, in response to the following Statement of Policy issued by the PUC on January 31, 1976, filed applications with the PUC for approval to render a type of transportation service not authorized by ...


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