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Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102

FAQs

Skip Navigation LinksPUC > Transportation > FAQs > Passenger Carriers FAQs

Passenger Carriers Questions and Answers

Q: What are the insurance requirements to be licensed or registered with the PUC?
A: Carriers are required to file evidence of one or more types of insurance coverage to secure and maintain active operating authority or registration. All carriers are required to file evidence of liability coverage. Minimum limits vary by type of carrier and other factors. Evidence of coverage is filed using a Commission-prescribed form.
 
Any for-hire passenger carrier that employs workers in its operation must file evidence of workers' compensation coverage by filing either (1) a certificate of insurance (Commission form TL-938) or (2) a certificate of consent to self-insure issued by the Department of Industrial Relations.
 
Minimum insurance coverage limits and other requirements are set forth in Commission general orders. You may view a table that shows the General Order applicable to each type of carrier and coverage (for example, charter-party carrier liability coverage = General Order 115). From there you may view any insurance-related general order in its entirety.
 
Insurance companies, brokers and agents may wish to view "Important Information for Insurance Providers"  to learn about forms and procedures to use in making insurance filings.
 
Q: What is the meaning of the letters "PSG" and "MTR" that appear with my permit number on notices issued by the License Section?
A: These are designations in the License Section computer system used to distinguish between motor carriers of passengers (PSG) and motor carriers of property (MTR). They are used only for internal record keeping purposes. Carriers should use the designations PSC (by passenger stage corporations), TCP (by charter-party carriers) or Cal-T (by household goods carriers) with their permit or certificate number on vehicles, in advertising, or for any other carrier identification purpose.
 
Q: How can I obtain a list of carriers licensed or registered with the Commission?
A: Lists can be produced by carrier class (e.g., household goods carriers, private carriers of passengers, etc.).


Q: Do I need to obtain a license from the PUC to transport passengers on a for-hire basis within California?
A: In most cases the transportation of passengers for compensation requires operating authority from the PUC. The law provides some exceptions, however. Two major ones are taxicab service, which is subject to local regulation by cities and counties, and medical transportation vehicles. All of the exceptions are set forth in Public Utilities Code Sections 226 and 5353.
 
Q: Is there more than one kind of for-hire passenger carrier license issued by the Commission?
A: Yes. The PUC issues passenger stage corporation (PSC) certificates and charter-party carrier (TCP) permits and certificates. There are distinct differences in the manner in which PSCs and TCPs operate:

  • A PSC provides transportation service to the general public on an individual-fare basis. Most PSCs operate a fixed route, scheduled service, or an on-call, door-to-door airport shuttle-type service.
  • A TCP charters a vehicle, on a prearranged basis, for the exclusive use of an individual or group. Charges are based on mileage or time of use, or a combination of both. Also falling under the TCP category are round-trip sightseeing services, and certain specialized services not offered to the general public, such as transportation incidental to another business and transportation under contract to a governmental agency, an industrial or business firm, or a private school.

Q: What is the difference between a TCP certificate and a TCP permit?
A: The law provides three types of certificates and three types of permits. These operating authorities and the services they authorize are:

  • Class A certificate - Charter service between any points in the state; round-trip sightseeing service.
  • Class B certificate - Charter service between any point within a radius of 125 air miles of the carrier's home terminal to any other point in the state. (Per federal law, the mileage limitation may not apply to transportation provided in vehicles that seat more than ten, including the driver.)
  • Class C certificate - Transportation services incidental to commercial balloon operations, commercial river rafting or skiing.
  • "P" permit - Charter services using only vehicles under 15-passenger seating capacity.
  • "S" permit - Round-trip sightseeing services.
  • "Z" permit - Specialized services not offered to the general public, namely, transportation incidental to another business; transportation under contract with industrial and business firms, governmental agencies, and private schools; and transportation of agricultural workers to and from farms.

Q: How do I apply for a PSC certificate?
A: Applicants for a PSC certificate must file a formal application in accordance with the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. (Note in particular the requirements for certificate applications contained in Rule 21.) Certificates are granted by a formal decision of the Commission. The decision granting a certificate will typically give the applicant 120 days to make various required filings with the License Section (insurance certificates, drug and alcohol testing information, etc.). Once these requirements are met, the applicant is sent a letter advising that operations may commence.
 
Q: How do I apply for a TCP permit or certificate?
A: Applicants for a TCP permit or certificate file a form application with the License Section. You may download this application packet. An informational packet is available to assist you in completing the application. These items may also be requested by contacting the License Section at (800) 877-8867 or licensing@cpuc.ca.gov.
 
Q: What is the filing fee for PSC or TCP authority?
A: The application filing fee for a PSC certificate is $500.  The application filing fee for a charter-party permit or certificate is $1,000, except for a Class A charter-party certificate, which requires a filing fee of $1,500. The filing fee must accompany your application.
 
Q: Can certificates and permits be transferred?
A: PSC certificates may be transferred by formal application to the Commission (see "How do I apply for a PSC certificate?"). The filing fee is $300.
 
TCP certificates (Class A, B, and C) may be transferred by filing a form application with the License Section. The filing fee is $300. You may download a transfer application packet. An informational packet is available to assist you in completing the application. These items may also be requested by contacting the License Section at (800) 877-8867 or licensing@cpuc.ca.gov.
 
TCP permits (type P, S, and Z) are not transferable
 
Q: Do I need to renew my certificate or permit?
A: TCP certificates and permits must be renewed every three years. The renewal fee is $100. PSC certificates do not require renewal.
 
Q: Are there some basic requirements that all passenger motor carriers must meet before they can be authorized to commence operations?
A: Yes, there are some common requirements related to insurance and safety of operation:

  • File evidence of liability insurance coverage on a PUC-prescribed form.
  • If workers are employed, file evidence of workers' compensation insurance on a PUC-prescribed form.
  • Participate in the DMV Employer Pull-Notice System.
  • Participate in the PUC's drug and alcohol testing program.
  • For any vehicle seating more than 10 (including the driver), undergo a CHP safety inspection.

Q: What are the liability insurance requirements for PSC and TCP operators?
A: With the exception of holders of a Class C charter-party carrier certificate, the following minimum liability insurance requirements apply (based on vehicle seating capacity, not including the driver):

  • 7 passengers or less . . . . . . . $750,000
  • 8 through 15 passengers . . .$1,500,000
  • 16 passengers or more . . . . $5,000,000

The minimum coverage for Class C charter-party carriers is $750,000, regardless of vehicle seating capacity. For additional information see General Order 101 (applicable to PSCs) or General Order 115 (applicable to TCPs).

Q: What is the "Employer Pull-Notice System"?
A: The Employer Pull-Notice (EPN) System is administered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It provides employers and regulatory agencies with a means of promoting driver safety through the ongoing review of driver records. All applicants for passenger carrier operating authority are required to participate in the EPN System and to inform the Commission of the requester code number assigned by the DMV. To enroll in the EPN System, contact the DMV at (916) 657-6346 or visit its Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov
 
Q: What is the PUC's drug and alcohol testing program?
A: Applicants for PSC or TCP operating authority must provide for a mandatory controlled substance and alcohol testing program as adopted by the Commission pursuant to Public Utilities Code Sections 1032.1 and 5374(a)(2) and b)(1)(I). The program, which is substantially similar to federal drug testing regulations, applies to drivers who operate vehicles with a seating capacity of 15 persons or less. Program requirements are set forth in Commission Resolutions TL-18716 and TL-18760. Included are requirements for pre-employment, random and post accident testing of drivers, employee education, and supervisor training. Applicants who will employ drivers to operate vehicles seating 16 persons or more are required to comply with the federal regulations.
 
Q: Does the PUC regulate the fares that passenger carriers charge?
A: PSC operators are required to file a tariff with the Commission setting forth their passenger fares. Carriers must adhere to these filed tariff fares. Fares can be increased only upon approval of the Commission. Some PSC operators have been granted a "Zone of Rate Freedom," which allows them to raise and lower their fares within a defined range by amending their tariff upon 10 days' notice to the Commission and the public.
 
The level of charges assessed by TCP operators is not regulated. However, in most cases the law provides that their charges must be based on vehicle mileage or time of use, or a combination thereof. Exceptions where individual fares may be charged are round-trip sightseeing operators and school bus contractors who are compensated by the pupils' parents.
 
Q: What is a "livery plate" and how do I obtain one?
A: Every limousine operated by a charter-party carrier is required to be equipped with a special license plate (commonly referred to as a livery plate) issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. For purposes of this requirement, "limousine" includes any luxury sedan, of either standard or extended length, with a seating capacity of not more than nine passengers, including the driver. To obtain livery plates from the DMV you must first receive an authorization letter from the PUC. Complete Form PL 664 and mail it together with a legible copy of the vehicle registration to the License Section. In return you will receive (1) an authorization letter to take to the DMV for processing and (2) a temporary livery plate letter valid for 120 days to carry in your vehicle while awaiting receipt of your livery plates from the DMV.
 
Q: My temporary livery plate letter will expire soon and I have not yet received my livery plates from the DMV. Can I get an extension on my temporary livery plate letter?
A: Yes. On a copy of your temporary livery plate letter write a short explanation of the circumstances and mail it to the License Section.
 
Q: Do I need to notify the Commission if I make changes to my vehicle fleet?
A: Yes. Carriers are required to maintain on file with the Commission an equipment list of all vehicles in use under each certificate and permit. The Commission must be notified within 10 days of the date any vehicle is put into or pulled out of service. Use Form PL 664 ("Equipment Statement of Applicant and CHP Inspection Request") to make additions or deletions to your equipment list. Mail the completed form to the License Section. If you are adding a vehicle that requires livery license plates, include a copy of the vehicle's DMV registration.

Q: In addition to obtaining operating authority from the Commission, are there any other requirements I must meet to provide transportation service at an airport?
A: Carriers authorized under a PUC-issued certificate or permit to serve an airport may do so only with the approval of the airport authority involved. Prospective applicants for operating authority, particularly a PSC certificate, are urged to contact the airport(s) involved to learn whether additional carriers are being allowed to operate on airport property and what the airport's requirements are.
 
Q: Are there any periodic fees I am required to pay to the Commission?
A: The Commission collects from each licensed carrier a fee based on the carrier's gross intrastate operating revenue. Currently the fee is ¼ of 1% of revenue. Carriers with annual revenue or $100,000 or less remit the fee annually together with a flat fee of $25. All other carriers remit the fee on a quarterly basis accompanied by a flat fee of $10. Late-filed reports are subject to a 25% penalty.
 
Q: How can I get placed on the list of drug testing consultants that the License Section provides to applicants for passenger stage corporation and charter-party carrier operating authority?
A: Send a written request to:

Public Utilities Commission
Attn: Supervisor, License Section – 2nd Floor
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102-3298
 
Enclose copies of the materials you will use to provide the required services, namely:

  • Administration of the client's random testing program.
  • Administration of the client's initial pre-employment testing.
  • Educational materials.
  • A written company policy.
  • Supervisor training.
  • Administration of the client's Employee Assistance Program.

Also provide a statement that you are familiar with the Commission's alcohol and controlled substance testing program requirements, including General Orders 157 and 158, Resolutions TL-18716 and TL-18760, and Parts 40 and 382 of Title 49 of the California Code of Regulations (CFR).
 
Q: What is a private carrier of passengers?
A: A private carrier transports passengers on a "not-for-hire" basis, generally in vehicles defined as a "bus" under the Vehicle Code. This would include vehicles seating more than 10 persons, including the driver, used by any nonprofit organization or group, and other vehicles seating more than 15 passengers, including the driver.
 
(Note that the definition of "private carrier" is tied to several sections of the Vehicle Code. You may wish review the Private Carriers of Passengers Registration Act in its entirety (Public Utilities Code Section 4000 et seq.) and the Vehicle Code sections referenced therein.)
 
Q: How do I register as a private carrier of passengers?
A: Before you can register with the PUC you must hold a California Identification ("CA") number issued by the California Highway Patrol. You may call the CHP at (916) 375-2810 for assistance. Once you are assigned a CA number you may register with the PUC by filing an application with a filing fee of $35 for the first year, and $30 per year thereafter. You may download a registration packet containing an application and other important information or contact License Section's Private Carrier Unit at (415) 703-2555 or kdy@cpuc.ca.gov and request that one be sent to you. You will also need to arrange through your insurance agent or broker to have a certificate of liability insurance (Form TL-1000) filed in your name.
 
Q: Are there special registration requirements for youth camps?
A: The law makes special provision for organizations that provide transportation services incidental to operation of a youth camp. Transportation services performed incidental to another business generally are subject to charter-party carrier licensing requirements. However, Public Utilities Code Section 5353(n) provides an exception when transportation incidental to operation of a youth camp is performed by either a qualifying nonprofit organization or an organization that operates an organized camp. These organizations shall (1) register as a private carrier (2) participate in the DMV's Employer Pull-Notice System, (3) ensure compliance with the annual bus terminal inspection required by subdivision (c) of Section 34501 of the Vehicle Code, and obtain insurance coverage in specified amounts.
 
Q: What are the minimum liability insurance requirements to register as a private carrier?
A: The minimum protection against liability is $15,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person; $30,000 for bodily injury to or death of more than one person; and $5,000 for damage or destruction of property. Higher minimum requirements that vary based on vehicle seating capacity apply to organizations providing transportation services incidental to operation of a youth camp. For additional information, see General Order 160.
 
Q: Do I need to renew my private carrier registration?
A: Yes. This is an annual registration that expires December 31. In October every registered carrier is mailed an invoice for $30 to renew the registration for the following year.

  

Last Modified: 6/6/2013


 
 
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