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PROPOSED RULEMAKING

PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION

[ 52 PA. CODE CH. 29 ]

[ L-2013-2349042 ]

Motor Carrier Vehicle List and Vehicle Age Requirements

[43 Pa.B. 6203]
[Saturday, October 19, 2013]

 The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission), on April 4, 2013, adopted a proposed rulemaking order amending its current motor carrier passenger regulations to eliminate the vehicle list requirements for taxis and limousines, eliminate the waiver exception for vehicle age limitation for taxis and replace the vehicle age limitation for limousines with a vehicle mileage requirement.

Executive Summary

 Section 1501 of the Public Utility Code requires every public utility in Pennsylvania to ''maintain adequate, efficient, safe, and reasonable service and facilities'' and to ''make all such repairs, changes, alterations, substitutions, extensions, and improvements in or to such service and facilities as shall be necessary or proper for the accommodation, convenience, and safety of its patrons, employees, and the public.'' 66 Pa.C.S. § 1501. Pursuant to that authority and Section 501 of the Public Utility Code, the Commission enacted the regulations at Sections 29.314(c)—(d) and 29.333(d)—(e) to ensure a safe and reliable taxi and limousine fleet for the public by requiring motor carriers of passengers to provide vehicle lists and to upgrade vehicles older than eight model years. The correlation between a vehicle's age and mileage and its reliability and safety is a matter of common sense and practical experience. Keystone Cab Serv. v. Pa. Public Utility Commission, 54 A.3d 126, 129 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012) (observing that the Commission carefully considered comments from the industry during the rulemaking process).

 Since the vehicle list regulations do not effectively aid in Commission enforcement efforts, the Commission proposes to eliminate the vehicle list requirements for taxis and limousines in Sections 29.314(c) and 29.333(d). The Commission has also determined that the waiver exception is no longer in the public interest since reviewing applications for waiver exceptions for taxis that are older than eight model years consumes limited Commission resources that could be more effectively and efficiently utilized in other areas of motor carrier enforcement. Accordingly, the Commission proposes to eliminate the waiver exception in Section 29.314(d). Since limousines tend to accumulate mileage and incur wear and tear at a slower rate than taxis, the Commission proposes to replace the vehicle age limitation for limousines in Section 29.333(e) with a vehicle mileage requirement.

Public Meeting held
April 4, 2013

Commissioners Present: Robert F. Powelson, Chairperson; John F. Coleman, Jr., Vice Chairperson; Wayne E. Gardner; James H. Cawley; Pamela A. Witmer

Motor Carrier Vehicle List and Vehicle Age Requirements; Doc. No. L-2013-2349042

Proposed Rulemaking Order

By the Commission:

 The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) proposes to amend its current motor carrier passenger regulations to: (1) eliminate the vehicle list requirements for taxis and limousines in Sections 29.314(c) and 29.333(d); (2) eliminate the waiver exception for vehicle age limitation for taxis in Section 29.314(d); and (3) replace the vehicle age limitation for limousines in Section 29.333(e) with a vehicle mileage requirement. The Commission seeks comments from all interested parties on these proposed regulation amendments, which follows as Annex A to this Order.

Background

 On March 24, 2005, the Commission issued a Proposed Rulemaking Order that discussed, inter alia, adding Sections 29.314(c)—(d) and 29.333(d)—(e) to the Pennsylvania Code to establish vehicle list and age requirements for taxis and limousines. Proposed Rulemaking Amending 52 Pa. Code Chapters 29 and 31, Docket No. L-00020157, 2004 WL 1585868 (Mar. 24, 2005). In its proposed rulemaking, the Commission believed at the time that the annual vehicle list requirement for taxis and limousines would aid the Commission in enforcement efforts. The Commission also determined that an eight-year vehicle age limitation for vehicles utilized in taxi and limousine service would ensure a current, reliable fleet. In the Proposed Rulemaking Order, the Commission did not propose a waiver exception to the eight-year vehicle age limitation. Id.

 After receiving and considering numerous public comments, the Commission issued a Final Rulemaking Order on August 16, 2005. Final Rulemaking Order Amending 52 Pa. Code Chapters 29 and 31, Docket No. L-00020157, 2005 WL 2205731 (Aug. 16, 2005). The Commission had received extensive commentary on the vehicle age requirement for taxis, suggesting that the requirement would unnecessarily increase industry costs and that a vehicle's age is not necessarily an accurate barometer of the vehicle's condition. In the Final Rulemaking Order, the Commission responded that while ''age is not synonymous with condition,'' age is still one of the most important factors indicating whether a vehicle is fit for service. The Commission further noted that age is a viable and efficient tool for the Commission to utilize in undertaking its difficult task of ensuring a safe and reliable taxi fleet for the public. However, given the potential undue hardship asserted by select motor carriers, the Commission decided to impose the eight year limit, subject to a specific exemption for vehicles that are otherwise deemed safe by the Commission. Observing that a waiver exception would necessitate a certain amount of discretion by the Commission's enforcement personnel, the Commission added the waiver exception language ''Unless otherwise permitted by the Commission'' to the vehicle age requirement for taxis to Section 29.314(d).

 The Commission received similar comments and concerns from interested parties regarding the vehicle age requirement for limousines. Therefore, the Commission also added the waiver exception language ''Unless otherwise permitted by the Commission'' to the vehicle age requirement for limousines to Section 29.333(e).

 The Commission's regulations at Sections 29.314(c)—(d) and 29.333(d)—(e) became effective on August 5, 2006 and remain in effect.

Discussion

 In an effort to streamline procedures to more efficiently and effectively use Commission resources in regulating motor carriers of passengers, the Commission now seeks to amend its regulations to: (1) eliminate the vehicle list requirements for taxis and limousines in Sections 29.314(c) and 29.333(d); (2) eliminate the waiver exception for vehicle age limitation for taxis in Section 29.314(d); and (3) replace the vehicle age limitation for limousines in Section 29.333(e) with a vehicle mileage requirement.1

 Section 1501 of the Public Utility Code requires every public utility in Pennsylvania to ''maintain adequate, efficient, safe, and reasonable service and facilities'' and to ''make all such repairs, changes, alterations, substitutions, extensions, and improvements in or to such service and facilities as shall be necessary or proper for the accommodation, convenience, and safety of its patrons, employees, and the public.'' 66 Pa.C.S. § 1501. Pursuant to such authority and Section 501 of the Public Utility Code, the Commission enacted the regulations at Sections 29.314(c)—(d) and 29.333(d)—(e) to ensure a safe and reliable taxi and limousine fleet for the public by requiring motor carriers of passengers to provide vehicle lists and to upgrade vehicles older than eight model years. The Commission acted well within its statutory authority in enacting the eight-year age limitation on vehicles. Keystone Cab Serv. v. Pa. Public Utility Commission, 54 A.3d 126, 128 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012) (observing that the Commission carefully considered comments from the industry during the rulemaking process). The Court also observed that the correlation between a vehicle's age and mileage and its reliability and safety is a matter of common sense and practical experience. Id. at 129.

 The Commission has now determined that the vehicle list regulation is an unnecessary requirement since it does not effectively aid in Commission enforcement efforts. The Commission has also determined that the waiver exception is no longer in the public interest since reviewing applications for waiver exceptions for taxis that are older than eight model years consumes limited Commission resources that could be more effectively and efficiently utilized in other areas of motor carrier enforcement. As to limousines, the Commission finds that a mileage limitation is more appropriate than an age limitation since limousines generally tend to accumulate mileage and incur wear and tear at a slower rate than taxis.

I. Eliminating the Vehicle List Requirement for Taxis and Limousines

 In 2001, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) recommended that all Pennsylvania taxis and limousines should be individually registered with the Commission to: (1) enable the Commission to maintain basic management information on taxis and limousines and (2) enable the Commission to systematically inspect vehicles based upon poor maintenance histories. Commonwealth Regulation of Taxicab and Limousine Service: A Report in Response to House Resolution 247, Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, at S-7 (Dec. 2001).

 This vehicle list requirement did permit the Commission to maintain basic management information for carriers that complied with the vehicle list requirement. However, since the list is only required for submission once a year between December 1 and December 31, the list often became unreliable and outdated due to frequent vehicle turnover. Presently, enforcement officers can obtain an up-to-date vehicle list for all the vehicles in a carrier's fleet on the date of inspection of any vehicle in the carrier's fleet. Therefore, the Commission finds that vehicle list requirement has not provided the Commission with accurate, up-to-date information. Accordingly, since requiring vehicle lists for taxis and limousines is unnecessary as the lists do not effectively aid in Commission enforcement efforts, the Commission proposes eliminating the existing vehicle list requirements at Section 29.314(c) for taxis and Section 29.333(d) for limousines.

II. Eliminating the Waiver Exception For Vehicle Age of Taxis

A. Commission Review Process of Vehicle Age Limitation Waiver Requests

 Commission review of a waiver request can be a fairly extensive and time-consuming process, depending on the completeness of the application and the timing of the filing of the application. Upon receiving a waiver request for a single vehicle, the Manager of the Transportation Division (the manager) assigns the application for review to a motor carrier compliance specialist (the specialist). The specialist reviews the application to ensure all information is included. If the application is missing information, the specialist contacts the carrier via letter, providing 10 business days to provide the missing information. If no information is received, the specialist, with approval of the manager, submits a letter to the carrier that dismisses the application with a reason and explains that a carrier can challenge the dismissal within 20 days by filing a request for reconsideration.

 If incomplete information is submitted again, the specialist submits a second letter, providing an additional 10 working days to receive the missing information. If information is still missing, the specialist, with approval of the manager, submits a letter to the carrier that dismisses the application with a reason and explains that a carrier may challenge the dismissal within 20 days by filing a request for reconsideration. If the application is complete, the specialist begins processing the application.

 Upon obtaining a completed application, the specialist first reviews photographs to assess the condition of the vehicle and checks the mileage. The specialist then reviews one year of maintenance records to determine whether the vehicle has been properly maintained. The specialist reviews the reason provided by the applicant as to why the vehicle is worthy to remain in service. The specialist reviews financial records to verify existence of a financial hardship. The specialist reviews Commission records to verify the carrier's compliance with all fines and assessments. The specialist then verifies that the financial information provided matches information listed on the assessment report. The specialist checks records at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to ensure the vehicle is properly registered to the carrier and has been in service.2

 If the specialist determines that a vehicle will not be approved at any point in reviewing the application, the specialist, with approval of the manager, submits a letter to the carrier that dismisses the application with a reason and explains that a carrier may challenge the dismissal within 20 days by filing a request for reconsideration. Upon receiving a request for reconsideration, the Commission re-opens the entire case and reviews again. The Commission's Office of Special Assistants prepares an order for all appeals.

 If the vehicle survives the above review of the application, the specialist, with approval of the manager, submits a letter to the carrier indicating that the vehicle was approved to be inspected and that the carrier will be contacted by an enforcement officer within 60 days to arrange a mutually agreeable time for the inspection. The letter specifically informs the carrier to ensure that the vehicle has no defects causing the vehicle to be ''rejected'' and thus not subject to re-inspection. With approval by the manager, the specialist then submits a memorandum and a certificate to the relevant District Office of the Commission's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, requesting an inspection for the vehicle. An enforcement officer will contact the carrier within 60 days to schedule a time for a ''four wheels off'' inspection. If the vehicle does not pass inspection, the Enforcement Officer notifies the carrier who signs the inspection report. The Enforcement Officer then submits a copy of the inspection report signed by the carrier, the certificate, and the original inspection report to the compliance specialist.

 If the vehicle passes inspection, the Enforcement Officer issues the certificate, performs proper documentation, and sends the original inspection report back to the compliance specialist in charge of the case. Then, the compliance specialist verifies and closes the case.

B. Statistics Regarding Recent Waiver Requests Filed With the Commission

 Of the 172 taxi companies regulated by the Commission eligible to file requests for waivers in 2012, only 25 companies requested waivers for 2013 for a total of 112 vehicles. The Commission approved the applications of nine companies for a total of 16 vehicles. All carriers whose applications were denied filed requests for reconsideration.

 These statistics demonstrate that out of 112 self-selected vehicles presented for waiver applications, less than 15% passed the Commission's safety and reliability standards for taxis to operate in motor carrier service for the public. Given this extremely low passing rate, the Commission's administrative costs to manage the waiver program and the potential safety risks associated with the use of older taxis outweigh any public benefit of maintaining and administrating the waiver program.

 In 2009, 2010, and 2011, nearly half of the motor carriers (taxi and limousine) that requested waiver exceptions did not file requests until a few weeks before the deadline. In 2012, over half of the motor carriers that requested waiver exceptions did not file requests until a few weeks before the deadline. This has placed a tremendous burden on the small contingent of motor carrier enforcement officers at the Commission since the officers are unable to carry out any other assignments during this time period.

 Accordingly, since Commission review of a waiver request can be a fairly extensive and time-consuming process, the Commission finds that the waiver exception3 is no longer in the public interest and takes resources away from the Commission's statutory mandate to ensure safe and reliable taxi service for the public.

III. Replacing the Vehicle Age Limitation for Limousines With A Vehicle Mileage Limitation

 Due to the number of applications requesting to use older vehicles in good condition in limousine service, the Commission proposes to replace the eight-year vehicle age limitation for limousines with a vehicle mileage limitation of 200,000 miles.

 The Commission receives many applications requesting to use older vehicles, including antiques, in good condition in limousine service. Unlike taxis that are subject to more constant use, limousines tend to accumulate mileage and incur wear and tear at a slower rate. Therefore, the use of older limousines generally does not invoke the same kind of safety and reliability concerns as older taxis. The Commission finds that a mileage limitation for limousines (1) provides a clear and fair standard for the industry and (2) is a viable and efficient tool for the Commission to utilize in ensuring safe and reliable limousine service for the public.

Regulatory Review

 Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on October 3, 2013, the Commission submitted a copy of this proposed rulemaking and a copy of a Regulatory Analysis Form to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the Chairpersons of the House Consumer Affairs Committee and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.

 Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC may convey any comments, recommendations or objections to the proposed rulemaking within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The comments, recommendations or objections must specify the regulatory review criteria which have not been met. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the rulemaking, by the Commission, the General Assembly and the Governor of comments, recommendations or objections raised.

Conclusion

 The Commission has proposed the amended regulations issued for comment by this Order in order to streamline Commission procedures and requirements pertaining to motor common carriers of passengers. The Commission, therefore, formally commences its rulemaking process to amend its existing regulations at 52 Pa. Code §§ 29.314(c)—(d) and 52 Pa. Code §§ 29.333(d)—(e) consistent with Annex A to this Order. The Commission seeks comments from all interested parties on these proposed amended regulations.

 Accordingly, pursuant to sections 501 and 1501 of the Public Utility Code (66 Pa.C.S. §§ 501 and 1501); sections 201 and 202 of the Act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202), and the regulations promulgated thereunder at 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1, 7.2 and 7.5; section 204(b) of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act (71 P. S. § 732.204(b)); section 745.5 of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5); and section 612 of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. § 232), and the regulations promulgated thereunder at 4 Pa. Code §§ 7.231—7.234, we are considering adopting the proposed regulations set forth in Annex A; Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

 1. A proposed rulemaking be opened to consider the regulations set forth in Annex A.

 2. The Secretary shall submit this proposed rulemaking order and Annex A to the Office of Attorney General for review as to form and legality and to the Governor's Budget Office for review of fiscal impact.

 3. The Secretary shall submit this proposed rulemaking order and Annex A for review and comments to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Legislative Standing Committees.

 4. The Secretary shall certify this proposed rulemaking order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

 5. Original written comments referencing Docket No. L-2013-2349042 be submitted within 30 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary, P. O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265.

 6. A copy of this proposed rulemaking order and Annex A shall be served on the Bureau of Technical Utility Services, the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate, and all affected jurisdictional passenger motor carriers.

 7. The contact person for this proposed rulemaking is Kenneth R. Stark, Assistant Counsel, Law Bureau, (717) 787-5558. Alternate formats of this document are available to persons with disabilities and may be obtained by contacting Sherri DelBiondo, Regulatory Coordinator, Law Bureau, (717) 772-4597.

ROSEMARY CHIAVETTA, 
Secretary

Fiscal Note: 57-296. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A

TITLE 52. PUBLIC UTILITIES

PART I. PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION

Subpart B. CARRIERS OF PASSENGERS OR PROPERTY

CHAPTER 29. MOTOR CARRIERS OF PASSENGERS

Subchapter D. SUPPLEMENTAL REGULATIONS

CALL OR DEMAND SERVICE

§ 29.314. Vehicle and equipment requirements.

*  *  *  *  *

 (c) [Vehicle list. Between December 1 and December 31 of each year, carriers shall provide the Commission with a current list of all vehicles utilized under its call or demand authority. The list must contain the year, make, vehicle identification number and registration number for each vehicle. The list shall be mailed to Director, Bureau of Transportation and Safety, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Post Office Box 3265, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-3265.

(d)] Vehicle age. [Unless otherwise permitted by the Commission, a vehicle may not be operated in call and demand service which] A vehicle that is more than 8 model years old may not be operated in call and demand service. For example, the last day on which a [1996] 2014 model year vehicle may be operated in taxi service is December 31, [2004] 2022. This provision is effective after [August 6, 2007] ______ (Editor's Note:  The blank refers to the effective date of adoption of this proposed rulemaking.).

[(e)] (d) Dome lights. Unless otherwise permitted by the Commission, vehicles operated by call and demand carriers must have a dome light affixed to the roof of the vehicle. The dome light shall be visible from a distance of 100 feet from the front and rear of the vehicle. The dome light shall be illuminated only when a customer does not occupy the vehicle.

LIMOUSINE SERVICE

§ 29.333. Vehicle and equipment requirements.

*  *  *  *  *

 (d) [Vehicle list. Between December 1 and December 31 of each year, carriers shall provide the Commission with a current list of all vehicles utilized under its limousine authority. The list must contain the year, make, vehicle identification number and registration number for each vehicle. The list shall be mailed to Director, Bureau of Transportation and Safety, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Post Office Box 3265, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-3265.

(e)] Vehicle [age] mileage. [Unless otherwise permitted by the Commission, a] A vehicle with more than 200,000 miles of cumulative mileage registered on its odometer may not be operated in limousine service [which is more than 8 model years old. For example, the last day on which a 1996 model year vehicle may be operated in limousine service is December 31, 2004]. This provision is effective [August 6, 2007] after ______ (Editor's Note: The blank refers to the effective date of adoption of this proposed rulemaking.).

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 13-1957. Filed for public inspection October 18, 2013, 9:00 a.m.]

_______

1  The Commission receives many applications requesting to use older vehicles in good condition in limousine service. Unlike taxis that are subject to more constant use, limousines tend to accumulate mileage and incur wear and tear at a slower rate. Therefore, the use of older limousines generally does not invoke the same kind of safety and reliability concerns as older taxis. The Commission finds that a mileage limitation (1) provides a clear and fair standard for the industry and (2) is a viable and efficient tool for the Commission to utilize in ensuring safe and reliable limousine service for the public.

2  The Vehicle Identification Number is checked instead of license plate tags to avoid any possibility of a carrier transferring tags from one vehicle to another that is already older than eight model years, thereby requesting a waiver on a vehicle that was not in service.

3  A carrier regulated by the Commission may still file a petition for waiver of Commission regulations. 52 Pa. Code § 5.43 (providing rules governing petitions for issuance, amendment, repeal, or waiver of Commission regulations). For example, carriers with antique or classic vehicles in good condition still have the option to file a petition for waiver of Commission regulations to provide motor carrier passenger service to the public.



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