HARRISBURG – As investigators continue to probe the circumstances of a recent deadly limousine accident in New York state, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) offered the following safety tips for consumers.
Pennsylvania limousine services outside of the city of Philadelphia are required to obtain a PUC certificate of public convenience for transporting passengers within the state. The PUC monitors certificated carriers for driver and vehicle safety, insurance coverage, rates, territory and customer service. Carriers must charge rates in accordance with their official tariff on file with the PUC.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority has jurisdiction over limousines providing services within Philadelphia city limits, as well as from an airport, railroad station or hotel located in Philadelphia. Limousine carriers may hold operating authority from both the PUC and the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
The PUC encourages consumers to consider the following tips when arranging rides with any passenger carrier, including limo services:
Check the backgrounds of carriers to verify that they are authorized and properly insured.
Ask for the carrier's PUC number.
Check the PUC's website for a history of consumer complaints.
Obtain more than one price quote, and document the transaction.
File a complaint if there are issues with the service, including potential safety violations.
Avoid unlicensed carriers that advertise low rates on social media.
The PUC recommends that consumers do not sign a contract for a limousine service that does not hold a PUC certificate number. Services without that number may not legally provide transportation service within the state, outside of Philadelphia, and may not have conducted the required vehicle inspections and driver background checks, and may not be properly insured.
The PUC also stressed the following points:
The accident in New York is under investigation by local authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which specializes in these types of complex investigations. The PUC will be closely monitoring the NTSB probe to see if there are any "lessons learned" or recommendations that could apply to Pennsylvania.
While we do not have all the details about the New York accident, because the investigation is in the early stages, it is important to note that a Pennsylvania state regulation limits the size of limousines to a maximum of 10 passengers. Larger vehicles require PUC certification as a "group/party bus" carrier, which includes a requirement that the driver have a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), including drug and alcohol testing requirements, and involves additional PUC inspections at the operator’s garages and at destinations across the state, along with the traditional Pennsylvania state vehicle inspections.
The PUC's Motor Carrier Enforcement Division is busy across the state, conducting inspections and safety checks and reviewing the operation of our state's passenger carriers, including taxis, limousines, ride-hailing vehicles and various bus services, along with household goods carriers. They are in the field every day and are committed to the safety of the traveling public.
For more information about passenger carrier service, consumers may visit the PUC website. To check the status of a carrier or check its violation history, consumers may contact the PUC toll free at 1-800-692-7380, or they may call one of the district offices closest to where the transportation will take place:
Division Headquarters 717-783-5010
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
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