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Safeway Trails Inc. v. Board of Public Utility Commissioners

Decided: June 23, 1964.

SAFEWAY TRAILS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT. IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION OF THE GREYHOUND CORPORATION, SAFEWAY TRAILS, INC., AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MOTOR BUS OWNERS FOR REHEARING AND RECONSIDERATION OF SPECIFICATIONS 3, 4 AND 6 OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 14:212 -- SPECIFICATIONS APPLYING TO AUTOBUSES -- DOCKET NO. 10790. THE GREYHOUND CORPORATION, ETC., AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MOTOR BUS OWNERS, ETC., APPELLANTS, V. BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT



For remandment -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Proctor, J.

Proctor

The appellants, Safeway Trails, Inc. (Safeway), Greyhound Corporation (Greyhound), and The National Association of Motor Bus Owners (NAMBO), challenge the validity of revisions to Specifications 3, 4 and 6 of Administrative Order 14:212 promulgated by the Board of Public Utility Commissioners (Board) on December 16, 1960, as applied to interstate-intercity deluxe buses. These specifications provide:

"3. Guard Rail

All autobuses shall be equipped with a suitable guard rail or gate which will prevent passengers from occupying any space forward of the plane of the back of the driver's seat when the bus is in motion.

4. Partition and Curtain

All autobuses shall be equipped with a partition of wood or metal and wire glass or safety glass with a suitable curtain to shield the driver from the glare of inside lights, located to the rear of the driver's seat. Not later than January 1, 1962, all autobuses must comply with this provision in a manner satisfactory to the Board.

6. Emergency Exits

(a) An emergency door located in the center of the rear vertical plane of the bus body or in the left side of bus body between the center of the bus and the extreme rear of the bus body shall be provided. The emergency door shall have a clearance with the door open of not less than 10" at the floor line and not less than 18" from a point 12" above the floor line to the upper belt panel.

(b) The emergency door shall be conspicuously marked.

'EMERGENCY DOOR'

on the inside of the bus body.

(c) The emergency door shall be constructed and maintained in such condition as to be readily opened by passengers in case of emergency.

(d) A clear passage to the emergency door of not less than 10" in width and free from all obstruction shall be provided and maintained.

(e) The emergency door shall be equipped with an audible or visible signal to warn the driver when the door is not completely closed.

(f) In addition to the emergency door, each autobus shall have adequate means of escape for passengers through push-out type windows.

(g) Each push-out type window so constructed shall have a frame or sash so designed, constructed and maintained as to provide free opening with a minimum of effort.

(h) Each push-out type window shall be identified as such by clearly legible and visible signs, lettering or decalcomania. Such marking shall include appropriate wording to indicate that it is an escape window."

Regulation of bus specifications in New Jersey dates back to 1927, at which time an emergency door was required on all buses, and a guard rail and partition were required on buses transporting passengers in excess of seated capacity. In 1954 the Board permitted Greyhound to substitute push-out windows in lieu of an emergency door in its Scenicruiser bus (GMC Model PD-4501), and in 1957 the Board amended its specifications to permit the use of at least four push-out windows in lieu of an emergency door. In 1952 the Interstate Commerce Commission had changed its regulations so that there was no requirement for an emergency door on buses operated under its jurisdiction; however, there were at that time 19 states which required such a door. At the present time, New Jersey is the only jurisdiction in the continental United States which requires an emergency door and the other equipment covered by these specifications on interstate deluxe buses.

Appellants Safeway and Greyhound are interstate bus operators operating under authority granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Both carriers also conduct a minimal intrastate service in New Jersey.

Greyhound is essentially an interstate-intercity bus operator with approximately 5,000 buses, 1,359 of which are assigned to intracompany pools which operate in New Jersey. These buses are GMC Models PD-4104, PD-4501 ...


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