August 20, 2015

PUC Advances Efforts To Update Transportation Regulations

The Public Utility Commission Thursday moved forward with its ongoing efforts to address changes in the transportation industry and ensure that the Commission’s rules governing motor carriers are up-to-date.
The Commission voted 5-0 to adopt a proposed rulemaking for Scheduled Route and Airport Transfer carriers.
The proposal would eliminate the requirement that new applicants demonstrate that their service will fulfill public demand or need – while maintaining the requirement that carriers establish they are technically and financially fit to operate safely and legally.
These services are one of a number of categories of transportation carriers whose regulations are the focus of a comprehensive Commission review.
“I support these ongoing efforts to review and modernize PUC regulations, for the transportation industry, as well as other sectors,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “It is important for the Commission to encourage growth, innovation and competition, while also continuing to ensure that consumers and the general public are protected.”
Efforts to modernize the PUC’s transportation regulations while serving the public interest have already resulted in new rules which eliminated the “need” requirement for household goods and property carriers, or moving companies.
Rules related to various other categories of transportation services are also currently being evaluated.
The process surrounding each of these rulemakings includes the opportunity for interested parties to comment, along with required reviews by the Office of Attorney General, Governor’s Budget Office, General Assembly and Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
On June 11, 2015, the Commissioners unanimously adopted a joint motion by Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. and Commissioner Robert F. Powelson to move forward with a two-stage process for studying PUC motor carrier regulations – beginning with the examination of the “need” requirement, and then expanding to include a holistic analysis of current transportation regulations.
“In recent years, the transportation landscape has changed dramatically, particularly with the advent of Transportation Network Companies, an entirely new type of passenger service,” said Commissioner Powelson in his June 2015 joint motion. “Recognizing this, it is incumbent upon the PUC to undertake a review of its current transportation regulations.”
The Commission’s analysis of current transportation regulations is being undertaken by an inter-bureau working group, consisting of the PUC’s Law Bureau, Bureau of Technical Utility Services and its independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement.
“The collective expertise in these bureaus will undoubtedly result in a more comprehensive and up-to-date set of regulations to govern the transportation industry,” said Vice Chairman Coleman. “With the changes embodied in these rulemakings, we are confident that the PUC will be in a strong position to address any challenges or opportunities that arise in the motor carrier industry in the future.”
On Aug. 28, 2014, the Commission hosted an en banc hearing to examine issues in the state’s transportation industry. Participants highlighted or summarized their positions on current issues and whether the Commission’s regulations should be updated to address certain matters
Issues addressed included:  Adequacy of driver integrity regulations; Adequacy of vehicle safety regulations; Adequacy of current insurance requirements; Elimination of the need standard; Rules for “Transportation Network Companies;” Enforcement of the Commission’s transportation regulations; and Geographic scope of authority.
A copy of the proposed regulations is available online.  It is Docket No. 2015-2478052.