Dattco Inc. v. State of Connecticut Department of Transportation
When the Department of Transportation issues a certificate of public convenience to a bus company that contains the language "permitted and authorized to operate," the bus company may be in receipt of an exclusive, or semi-exclusive, license, even if the certificate does not expressly state that the license is exclusive or semi-exclusive. In September 2010, the Department of Transportation requested that bus companies submit "requests for proposals," to operate bus routes. In November 2010, the DOT indicated that bus companies that in the past had operated certain routes might not be allowed to continue to operate those routes, because they might be awarded to other bus companies. The plaintiff bus companies sued the DOT and argued that they possess exclusive property rights to operate certain bus routes and that due process is required, prior to the re-assignment of a bus route to another bus company. The DOT objected it possesses the authority to re-assign bus routes, without revoking the plaintiff bus companies' right to operate certain routes and without an award of a certificate of public convenience to the new bus company. Connecticut General Statutes §13b-80 provides, "No person, association, limited liability company or corporation shall operate a motor bus without having obtained a certificate from the Department of Transportation or from the Federal Highway Administration pursuant to the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982, P.L. 97-261, specifying the route and certifying that public convenience and necessity require the operation of a motor bus or motor buses over such route." The court rejected the DOT's argument that the certificate of public convenience must explicitly state that the authority to operate a particular bus route is exclusive. If a bus company's certificate to operate includes the language "permitted and authorized to operate," the certificate may qualify as an exclusive, or semi-exclusive, license that may qualify as a property right, even without an express declaration of exclusivity. The court ordered the parties to schedule a hearing on which bus routes, if any, qualify as exclusive, or semi-exclusive.