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Lakewood Express Service Inc. v. Board of Public Utility Commissioners

Decided: July 23, 1948.

LAKEWOOD EXPRESS SERVICE, INC., PROSECUTOR,
v.
BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND LINCOLN TRANSIT CO., INC., DEFENDANTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Stein, Stern & Conford (Milton B. Conford, of counsel).

For the defendant Board of Public Utility Commissioners, Walter D. Van Riper, Attorney-General, and Daniel DeBrier, Deputy Attorney-General (Frank H. Sommer, Deputy Attorney-General, of counsel).

For the defendant Lincoln Transit Co., Inc., George M. Eichler.

Before Justices Bodine, Heher and Wachenfeld.

Heher

The opinion of the court was delivered by

HEHER, J. Certiorari was granted to review an order made by the State Board of Public Utility Commissioners on July 30th, 1947, directing prosecutor to cease and desist from the operation of autobuses of the sedan type in interstate transportation for hire between the City of New York, in the State of New York, and the Township of Lakewood, in New Jersey, for failure of compliance with the specifications for the construction and equipment of autobuses prescribed by the Board's Regulation B-7, and for nonproduction of evidence of public liability and property damage insurance in accordance with the Board's rules and regulations.

The evidence of insurance has since been supplied; and the Board concedes that, were it not for noncompliance with the regulation as to vehicular construction and equipment, the restraint imposed would be justifiable only so long as there was nonconformance with the provision for insurance.

Prosecutor is exclusively a common carrier of passengers in interstate commerce; and the first point made is that, since it is not engaged in intrastate business in any degree, Regulation B-7 has no application and the order under review is coram non judice.

R.S. 48:4-18, before the amendment in 1946 of R.S. 48:4-1, invested the Utility Commission with power to prescribe "reasonable regulations with respect to the construction and equipment of autobuses carrying passengers between points in this state and points in other states * * * consistent with regulations prescribed by the board applying to the operation of autobuses between points in this state." The definition of the term "autobus" in R.S. 48:4-1 was held by this court to be inclusive of sedan automobiles. Nutley-Times Square Service v. Board of Public Utility Commissioners, 109 N.J.L. 289; Greenfield v. Board of Public Utility Commissioners, 131 Id. 361. But by chapter 125 of the Pamphlet Laws of 1946 (Pamph. L., p. 602), amending R.S. 48:4-1, supra, the word "autobus," as used in chapter 4 of title 48

of the Revised Statutes, was redefined to mean and include, "except as hereinafter noted, any motor vehicle or motorbus operated over public highways or public places in this state for the transportation of passengers for hire in intrastate business, notwithstanding such motor vehicle or motorbus may be used in interstate commerce." Does this redefinition of the term suggest a legislative design to exclude autobuses engaged exclusively in interstate passenger transportation from the category subject to regulation under R.S. 48:4-18? Was it the legislative purpose to leave to the federal authority the regulation of vehicles of this class engaged only in interstate commerce? We are clear that such was not the intention.

The amendment of 1946, cited supra, was not designed to modify section 48:4-18. There was no express modification of this provision; and the use of the qualifying clause, "except as hereinafter noted," in the definition of the term "autobus" in the amendment of 1946 is significant of an intention and purpose to preserve section 48:4-18 intact, and likewise sections 48:4-19 and 48:4-20, the former imposing the obligation of liability insurance on "interstate buses" and the latter levying an excise tax upon interstate operations. The exception is the key to the ...


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