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Intrastate Bus Service on Interstate Certificate

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When can a bus operator legally provide local or intrastate service under an Interstate Certificate?

The answer seems relatively simple when one reads some of the Federal Decisions as well as the language contained on the Federal Certificate issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If the bus company provides substantial interstate service on its interstate route, it may provide local or intrastate service on that route. That part is clear. What is not so clear is whether the company may provide interstate service in some of its vehicles and wholly intrastate service in some of its vehicles.

It is clear that buses traveling on an interstate route can pick up and drop off local or intrastate passengers along the route that crosses state lines. Additionally, the former ICC had ruled in a published Decision that intrastate service need not be provided in the same vehicles which would seem to answer the previous question.

However, this is where the “substantial” interstate service comes into play. The ICC had ruled in one of my cases (actually the last Decision issued by the ICC before it was legislated out of existence) that two of my bus company clients could provide separate interstate and intrastate service (separate vehicles or trips) based on the fact situations presented (in one case, the bus company had 90% of its trips interstate, and in the other about 80%). The ICC did not set a percentage test in its findings and I have generally advised my clients that 70% was the minimum level of interstate service that has to be provided in order to provide local service in separate vehicles.

I will point out, however, that the current position of the NJ MVC is not in agreement with either my position or the ICC Decisions. The MVC has been issuing Summonses to some of my clients where they perceive that a single trip was conducted intrastate, even though 480 trips were interstate on the same date. I have successfully defended these matters in Municipal Court, although the decisions rendered by the Judges in each case were on evidentiary grounds for dismissing the MVC Inspectors’ testimony.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield NJ Transportation attorney)  www.jcasser.com

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