Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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Appellees were suburban common carriers which, pursuant to certificates of public convenience, were authorized to provide hail or call taxicab services, known in the industry as “call or demand services,” in the Commonwealth. Appellees were also authorized to provide call or demand services in limited portions of the City, while being prohibited from providing call or demand service to the City’s business or tourist districts, Philadelphia International Airport, 30th Street Station, or City casinos. Taxicabs which were authorized to provide call or demand service throughout the City were known as “medallion taxicabs,” while appellees operated what were known as “partial rights taxicabs.” Prior to 2004, PUC was responsible for regulating all taxicab service in the Commonwealth. Medallion taxicabs were regulated pursuant to the Medallion Act, and all other taxicabs, including those operated by appellees, were regulated pursuant to the Public Utility Code and PUC regulations. Appellants, the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), appealed a Commonwealth Court order invalidating a jurisdictional agreement between PPA and PUC and concluding certain PPA regulations were invalid and unenforceable as to partial rights taxicabs operating in the City of Philadelphia (City). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s order in part (with regard to amended Count IV of the Amended Petition for Review), and affirm it in part (with regard to Counts V-VIII). The Court found the Commonwealth Court erred in concluding the Jurisdictional Agreement violated appellees’ substantive due process rights. The purpose of the Jurisdictional Agreement was to clarify whether PPA, PUC, or both agencies would regulate a trip which is subject to dual jurisdiction, and the Agreement simply states that where dual jurisdiction exists PUC cedes jurisdiction to PPA. The Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court in all other respects. View "Bucks Co. Svc., et al. v. PPA" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue raised for the Supreme Court's review was whether freight brokerage services were excepted from local business privilege taxation1 under the “public utility” exception found in Section 301.1(f)(2) of the Local Tax Enabling Act (“LTEA”), Act of December 31, 1965, P.L. 1257, as amended, 53 P.S. sec. 6924.301.1(f)(2). The Commonwealth Court concluded that S&H Transport was not excepted. The Supreme Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court’s decision because the Supreme Court concluded that the rates of the common motor carriers with whom S&H did business were not fixed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and thus the entire exception was inapplicable. View "S & H Transport v. City of York" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court assumed plenary jurisdiction over this matter as a sua sponte exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction to determine the proper forum for adjudicating appeals from the suspension of the certification of an official emission inspection mechanic under section 4726(c) of the Vehicle Code. Appellant Maher Ahmed Mohamed was a certified emission inspector by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (PennDOT). In 2007, a Quality Assurance Officer for PennDOT (Auditor), conducted a records audit at Keystone. The Auditor’s report concluded that Appellant performed faulty emission inspections on four vehicles by connecting the emission equipment to a vehicle other than the one being tested in order to obtain a passing result. The report further indicated that two of the vehicles tested and the vehicle used to obtain the passing results were owned by taxicab companies partly owned by Appellant. The Auditor also found that Appellant falsified the records of the four tested vehicles. Appellant failed to appear at a subsequent agency hearing to answer the charges against him, and the Auditor provided the only testimony by presenting the findings of his report. PennDOT sent Appellant an order notifying him that his certification as an official emission inspector was suspended. Instead of following the directions in the order regarding the filing of an appeal, Appellant filed a petition for review from PennDOT's suspension order in the Commonwealth Court. The Commonwealth Court affirmed PennDOT's decision. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court: "it may be the established practice to file appeals under section 4726(c) in the courts of common pleas; however, such practice remains inconsistent with . . . statutory language. While the Commonwealth Court potentially may have been correct in concluding that the General Assembly intended to enact something different from the actual text of section 933 [of the Administrative Agency Law], the Commonwealth Court was without authority to correct an omission and, therefore, violated established legal principles by disregarding the clear statutory language." Accordingly, the Court remanded the case for PennDOT to conduct an administrative hearing on the question of Appellant's suspension in accordance with the terms of the Administrative Agency Law. View "Mohamed v. Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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Appellees Germantown Cab Company and Sawink, Inc., received fines and suspensions for violations of regulations promulgated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority (the Authority or PPA), pertaining to driver licensure, currency of vehicle inspection, and tire tread wear. The companies pursued declaratory relief and appellate remedies, claiming that the Authority's regulations were invalid, since they were not filed with the Legislative Reference Bureau in accordance with the Commonwealth Documents Law, which is generally applicable to Commonwealth agencies. The Authority took the position that its regulations were proper, though they were not promulgated in accordance with the CDL, in light of the Authority's "unique local focus and consistent with provisions of its enabling legislation." The Commonwealth Court ultimately sustained the appeals, disagreeing with the Authority's arguments that, as "a unique hybrid agency with a local focus," it should be deemed exempt from statutory rulemaking procedures generally applicable to Commonwealth agencies. According to the court, the applicability of the CDL does not turn on an agency's particular focus; rather, it applies to "all agencies, past, present and future, regardless of their mission." Upon review of the applicable legal authorities and the parties' appellate briefs, the Supreme Court agreed with the Commonwealth Court in sustaining Appellees' appeals. View "Germantown Cab Co. v. Philadelphia Parking Authority" on Justia Law