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Ace Ambulance & Oxygen Serv. v. Commerce Com.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 21, 1979.

ACE AMBULANCE & OXYGEN SERVICE CO. ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. JAMES D. HEIPLE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE STENGEL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The Illinois Commerce Commission issued a certificate of convenience and necessity to Spoon River Ambulance, Inc., to operate a transportation service for non-ambulatory persons in the city of Peoria and the surrounding area. The certificate was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Peoria County, and the parties who intervened to object, Ace Ambulance & Oxygen Service Co. *fn1 and the city of Peoria, have perfected this appeal from the circuit court judgment.

On January 17, 1977, Spoon River petitioned to the Commission for authority to operate a "medi-car" service in the Peoria area to provide transportation for persons who are non-ambulatory, invalid, and convalescent. The petition proposed to operate by individual appointment, rather than on a fixed route or time schedule, using van-type vehicles specially equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. The medi-cars would be radio-dispatched from a base in the city of Peoria. The service would operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days each week, and would be designed for persons who are physically unable to use ordinary commercial transportation but do not require ambulance or other emergency service. The petition proposed to operate this service to transport passengers "to hospitals, doctor's offices and other locales for medical care."

The commission allowed the city of Peoria and Ace Ambulance to intervene in opposition to the petition. Both intervenors challenged the jurisdiction of the commission and in addition, Ace Ambulance claimed priority in the field. After the hearing was concluded the commission entered an order granting a certificate of convenience and necessity in the following form:

"IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that public convenience and necessity require the operation and maintenance by Spoon River Ambulance, Inc. of the business of transporting non-ambulatory, invalid and convalescent persons requiring specialized equipment, between points and places within a 20 mile radius of Peoria, Illinois, and to and from said radius to all points in the State of Illinois, as a common carrier."

The order also provided that the certificate did not give Spoon River exclusive authority for the transportation service specified so as to preclude the certification of other operators and that Spoon River's certificate is subject to the commission's General Order No. 153, and to the filing of its tariff schedules.

The intervenors then appealed to the circuit court where the order was affirmed. This appeal followed.

Intervenors have mounted a vigorous attack upon the commission's finding that it has jurisdiction to certify and regulate the type of service offered by Spoon River. Before considering their arguments, we first note that the Illinois Commerce Commission has only that jurisdiction conferred upon it by the legislature, and it may not by its own act extend its jurisdiction. (Illinois-Indiana Cable Television Association v. Illinois Commerce Com. (1973), 55 Ill.2d 205, 302 N.E.2d 334.) Section 8 of the Public Utilities Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 8) grants the commission general supervisory power over all public utilities and section 10.3 defines the term "public utility" as follows:

"`Public utility' means and includes every corporation, company, association, joint stock company or association, firm, partnership or individual * * * that owns, controls, operates or manages, within this State, directly or indirectly, for public use, any plant, equipment or property used or to be used for or in connection with, or owns or controls any franchise, license, permit or right to engage in:

a. the transportation of persons or property, except motor vehicles regulated by "The Illinois Motor Carrier Property Act'; * * *.

`Public utility' does not include, however:

5. such public utilities which are engaged in the transportation of persons by motor bus to the extent that the transportation is conducted pursuant to a valid and subsisting contract with a political subdivision or a municipal corporation in this State * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 10.3.

Two other statutory definitions are relevant to this controversy. In section 10.4 of the Public Utilities Act, it is provided:

"`Common carrier' includes all railroads, street railroads, express companies, private car lines, sleeping car companies, fast freight lines, steamboat lines and other common carriers by water, and every corporation, company, association, joint stock company or association, firm, partnership, or individual, their lessees, trustees, or receivers appointed by any court whatsoever, owning, operating or managing any such agency for public use in ...


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