Goldmann, Leonard and Mountain. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, P.J.A.D.
Plaintiff union appeals from a decision of the Commuter Operating Agency of the Department of Transportation granting a petition brought by the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines (railroad) for permission to discontinue passenger trains Nos. 756, 773, 758 and 769. No. 758 is a morning train from Glassboro to Camden and 769 is the late afternoon train from Camden to Glassboro. No. 756 is the early morning train from Millville to Camden and 773 the late afternoon train in the opposite direction. The trains are designed and scheduled to serve commuter traffic between the respective points.
Following a public hearing the Agency rendered its decision authorizing the discontinuance of the trains, to be effective upon 30 days' notice to passengers. We granted the union's motion for a stay of the discontinuance pending appeal.
The sole issue raised by the Agency relates to the refusal of the examiner to require or permit evidence to be received as to the railroad's freight operations and revenues. When counsel for the union, on cross-examination of the railroad's expert witness Diffenderfer, inquired as to freight revenues, the reply was that "freight operation is not a part of this division." A protracted legal argument followed when counsel
asked the witness whether he had freight figures for the railroad. The argument concluded with the following exchange between the hearer and the witness:
MR. DAY, [the hearer] Does the PRSL, Mr. Diffenderfer, make money as a whole? Does it show a profit on its whole operation?
THE WITNESS: PRSL does not show a profit as a whole.
MR. DAY: Does it show any profits on its freight operation?
THE WITNESS: No, the freight operation shows some loss.
The witness explained that his information came from a report made by the railroad to the Interstate Commerce Commission under the Commission's rules for reporting the railroad's revenues and expenses.
The railroad had entered into a contract with the Department of Transportation pursuant to the Transportation Act of 1966 (N.J.S.A. 27:1A-1 et seq.), under whose terms it was required to furnish specified passenger service. Such an agreement permits the carrier, during the life of the contract, to apply for changes in passenger service and applicable fares, including a decrease in the number of trains. N.J.S.A. 27:1A-24. That section of the statute directs that the agency, prior to making ...