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Port Authority v. Baum Bus Co.

Decided: January 23, 1978.

PORT AUTHORITY TRANS-HUDSON CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BAUM BUS COMPANY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Allcorn, Morgan and Horn.

Per Curiam

The single issue raised in this appeal by defendants, consisting of 19 individual corporate franchised bus operators and their association, is whether defendants were constitutionally entitled to a hearing prior to the promulgation by plaintiff Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) of tariffs for the use by defendants and all others similarly situated of PATH's transportation facility in Jersey City, which is known as the Journal Square Transportation Center.

Defendants raised said issue, among others, in resisting an action brought by PATH to compel the individual defendants to pay scheduled tolls which PATH's board of directors fixed by resolution on February 13, 1975.

Judge Tarleton, in a comprehensive opinion, 156 N.J. Super. 585 (Law Div. 1977), decided all of the issues raised in said litigation, including the point before us. Adversely to defendants' contentions, he found that the tolls were reasonable and that defendants were not entitled to a hearing before the amounts of the tolls were fixed. We agree with that determination substantially for the reasons stated in said opinion. We add the following comments.

Defendants rely on a provision of the Urban Mass Transportation Acts of 1964 and 1970, 49 U.S.C.A. 1601 et seq. In particular, attention is directed to 49 U.S.C.A. 1602(d), which was enacted as part of the act of 1970, providing:

(d) Any application for a grant or loan under this chapter to finance the acquisition, construction, reconstruction or improvement

of facilities or equipment which will substantially effect a community or its mass transportation service shall include a certification that the applicant --

(1) has afforded an adequate opportunity for public hearings pursuant to adequate prior notice, and has held such hearings unless no one with a significant economic, social or environmental interest in the matter requests a hearing.

It is contended that at such a hearing the standard for reviewing the tolls imposed by PATH is whether they are "just and reasonable," as dictated by the Bridge Acts of 1906 and 1946. 33 U.S.C.A. 494; 33 U.S.C.A. 526. It is suggested that this standard of review extends to tolls charged for use of the Journal Square Transportation Center, since that facility is part of an interstate transit system.

The above-quoted provision of the Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA), 49 U.S.C.A. § 1602(d), was added in 1970, subsequent to UMTA's first grant to PATH in April 1968. Pub. L. 91-453, § 2(2). Prior to 1970 the act did not contain a public-hearing requirement. The second UMTA grant was made in May 1971, subsequent to the passage of the public-hearing requirement. However, this grant was made for the purpose of meeting cost overruns. Grants for this purpose are not subject to the public-hearing requirement where the scope of the project is not significantly changed. Consequently, defendants cannot successfully assert a right to a hearing based on this act. The fact that provisions of the Bridge Acts of 1906 and 1946 require that tolls be "just and reasonable" may govern a hearing if held, but are of no avail to defendants in seeking to compel a hearing. Nothing in the Bridge Acts mandates a hearing on the question of tolls.*fn1

Defendants' additional argument that they have been denied their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment is totally unsupported by citations to authority. ...


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