B. Background

Red & White is a public utility vessel common carrier of passengers on the San Francisco Bay. It operates a commute service between the Cities of Richmond (Richmond) and San Francisco (San Francisco), providing morning departures from Richmond at 6:55 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. and evening departures from San Francisco at 5:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. (Tr. 48.) It filed this application on July 18, 2000 seeking suspension of this commute service. Red & White alleges that there is insufficient ridership to justify continued service, and that it has been losing money since the inception of service. A timely protest was filed by Friends of the Richmond Ferry (Friends) seeking an evidentiary hearing. Should Red & White be relieved of service, Friends asks that the certificate by revoked, not suspended, so that there would be no inhibition on competition from another provider. (Protest, p. 2.) We scheduled a prehearing conference (PHC) for September 5, 2000. On September 1, 2000, Red & White filed a motion for immediate suspension of service pending a Commission decision on its application. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Sheldon Rosenthal denied the motion at the PHC. Assigned Commissioner Richard A. Bilas concurred in that ruling. (Tr. 26.) He reaffirmed the denial in a written Scoping Memo dated September 7, 2000. At the PHC, Terry Mollica entered an appearance as a Protestant. (Rule 54.)

On September 14, 2000, Red & White filed a tariff reducing the round trip service between Richmond and San Francisco to one trip per day. (Exh. 2.) Friends protested this tariff filing. On Monday, September 25, 2000, Red & White posted a notice on its ferries stating that service would be suspended following the last trip on Thursday, September 28, 2000. (Exh. 5.) It also published a press release making this announcement. (Exh. 6.) On Thursday afternoon, September 28, 2000, the Commission held an emergency PHC. That same day, following the conference, Commissioner Bilas issued an emergency order requiring Red & White to continue service until further order of the Commission and consolidating the tariff filing of September 14, 2000, with the evidentiary hearing in this matter. Evidentiary hearings were held on October 25-27, 2000, at which time the matter was submitted subject to briefs to be filed on November 3, 2000.

This matter was preliminarily determined to be a ratesetting application for which a hearing was not necessary. (Resolution ALJ 176-3044) As a result of the protest filed by Friends and the appearance of Protestant Mollica, the preliminary designation will be changed to that of hearing required. (Tr. 2-3.) The ALJ was designated as the principal hearing officer (Tr. 1). At the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the hearing the parties waived comments (Rule 8.1) on the ALJ's proposed decision. (Tr. 380.) Therefore this matter is ready for decision by the Commission.

Red & White filed another motion for immediate suspension of service on Friday, October 27, 2000. That motion is basically a renewal of its previous motions on this subject and will be denied. Since Red & White offered no evidence in support of the reduction of service to one round trip per day during the evidentiary hearing, the tariff filing is denied.

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