Ronald Cab, Inc., t/a Community Cab and Dee Dee Cab, Inc., t/a Penn-Del Cab and Shawn Cab, Inc., t/d/b/a Delaware County Cab Co. and Sawink, Inc., t/d/b/a County Cab Co., Petitioners
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Respondent
Argued: December 10, 2012
BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge
MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge
Ronald Cab, Inc. t/a Community Cab; Dee Dee Cab, Inc. t/a Penn-Del Cab; Shawn Cab., Inc. t/d/b/a Delaware County Cab Co.; and Sawink, Inc. t/d/b/a County Cab Co. (collectively, the Taxicab Companies) petition for review of an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) dismissing their complaint that a competing company, OGED, Inc., was offering taxicab service without a certificate of public convenience from the Commission. The central question in this appeal is whether medallion taxicabs that operated in Philadelphia and outside Philadelphia under a single certificate of public convenience were permitted to transfer, effectively, the non-Philadelphia service to a non-medallion taxicab without the Commission's approval. Because the Commission made no findings or conclusions of law on this issue, we remand for a new adjudication.
The Commission has regulated taxicab service throughout Pennsylvania since 1913. Regulation begins with a certificate of public convenience, for which the applicant must demonstrate that there is a need.
Central to the Commission's regulation of public utilities is a certificate of public convenience, which every utility must acquire before it can operate lawfully. See 66 Pa. C.S. §1101 (public utility may supply service where a certificate of public convenience is "first had and obtained."). The Commission will grant a certificate of public convenience where "necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience, or safety of the public." 66 Pa. C.S. §1103(a). The Commission must hold public hearings on a certificate application. 66 Pa. C.S. §1103(b). The Commission's regulation at 52 Pa. Code §3.381(b) requires that notice of an application for a certificate must be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Persons objecting to approval of the application are then permitted to file protests with the Commission and can participate in the proceedings as intervenors. 52 Pa. Code §3.381(c).
Beginning in 1990, taxicab companies offering service in Philadelphia had to obtain a medallion from the Commission in addition to a certificate of public convenience. The Act of April 4, 1990, P.L. 93, added Chapter 24 to the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa. C.S. §§2401-2416, which chapter became known as the Medallion Act. The act required that each taxicab with a certificate of public convenience from the Commission whose service area covered the entire City of Philadelphia had also to obtain a medallion from the Commission. 66 Pa. C.S. §2402 (repealed). The taxicab could not provide service in Philadelphia unless the medallion was attached to its hood at all times. 66 Pa. C.S. §2404 (repealed).
In 2004, the General Assembly transferred the responsibility for regulating taxicab service in Philadelphia from the Commission to the Philadelphia Parking Authority in the Act of July 16, 2004, P.L. 758, No. 94 (Act 94). Act 94 repealed the Medallion Act and replaced it with Chapter 57 of the General Local Government Code, 53 Pa. C.S. §§5701-5745. Outside Philadelphia, the Commission remains solely responsible for regulating taxicab service. As did the Medallion Act, Chapter 57 requires each taxicab with citywide rights to have a certificate of public convenience and a medallion attached to the vehicle.
The Taxicab Companies hold certificates of public convenience from the Commission with a service area outside Philadelphia. That includes the 69thStreet Station in Upper Darby, Delaware County. This station is a transportation hub for various train lines and bus routes that serve the region. Persons coming into the station use taxis to reach their final destinations. The Taxicab Companies assert that OGED is providing service at the 69th Street Station without the requisite authority.
Prior to the passage of Act 94, OGED held four certificates of public convenience and four medallions issued by the Commission. These authorized OGED to provide call or demand service on a citywide basis in Philadelphia. One certificate also authorized OGED to provide call or demand service in a small area outside Philadelphia that included the 69th Street Station.
Since Act 94, OGED and the Taxicab Companies have continued to operate in the service areas they held under the certificates of public convenience issued by the Commission. However, OGED changed the way it operates outside Philadelphia. OGED now operates taxicabs (1) with medallions in Philadelphia and (2) without medallions outside Philadelphia.
In January 2010, the Taxicab Companies filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that OGED was operating illegally. The complaint asserted that OGED had abandoned its service area at the 69th Street Station; was operating without any authorization; and was not reporting its operations and revenue to the Commission. The Taxicab Companies requested the Commission to issue a cease and desist order to OGED. OGED denied the allegations in the complaint.
The matter was assigned to an administrative law judge (ALJ) for a hearing. In support of their complaint, the Taxicab Companies presented the testimony of Ronald Winkelvoss, Jr., owner and officer of the Taxicab Companies. Winkelvoss explained that the Taxicab Companies operate under certificates of public convenience issued by the Commission prior to the passage of Act 94. Act 94 did not affect their certificates. Winkelvoss then testified that OGED is a taxicab company that operates in Philadelphia, and all of its taxicabs must have medallions. Some of the 1600 authorized medallion taxicabs also provide service outside Philadelphia, including the 69th Street Station. However, these taxicabs could not operate anywhere, even outside Philadelphia, without a medallion.
Winkelvoss described the 69th Street Station as a transportation hub that is crucial to the Taxicab Companies' business. The only companies authorized to provide service at the 69th Street Station are the Taxicab Companies and those medallion taxicabs that always had that service area. Winkelvoss testified that since late 2009 he has seen OGED operating ...