Puget Sound Traction Co. v. Reynolds
244 U.S. 574 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Puget Sound Traction Co. v. Reynolds, 244 U.S. 574 (1917)

Puget Sound Traction, Light & Power Company v. Reynolds

No. 220

Submitted April 25, 1917

Decided June 11, 1917

244 U.S. 574


City ordinances granting street railway franchises in the State of Washington, with the right at any and all times to make reasonable rules and regulations for the management and operation of the railway lines thereby authorized, contained a proviso that such rules and regulations should not conflict with the laws of the state. Held: (1) that the proviso, fairly construed, meant the laws as they should from time to time exist; (2) that the act establishing the Public

Page 244 U. S. 575

Service Commission of Washington (Laws 1911, c. 117), and orders of the commission requiring the appellant company to run through cars beyond the limits of the lines covered by such franchises over other parts of its system, were within the description of the proviso, and so did not impair its contract rights (if such they were) to make such rules and regulations.

A municipality cannot, by contract with a street railway company, foreclose the exercise of the police power of the state in respect of the regulation of rates of fare and transfer privileges unless clearly authorized to do so by the supreme legislative power. Detroit United Railway v. Michigan, 242 U. S. 238, distinguished.

Under the Constitution of Washington, which antedated the ordinances here in question, contractual provisions in franchises conferred by municipal corporations without express legislative authority are subject to be set aside by the legislature, and the Public Utilities Act, supra, supersedes any conflicting ordinance or charter provision of a city.

Where several street railway lines, built under distinct franchises, are owned and operated as one system, a public regulation concerning car service and fares will not be adjudged confiscatory because of its financial results to the line immediately affected if the system as a whole remains profitable.

Where several street railway lines, built under distinct franchises, are owned and operated as one system, it is clearly within the bounds of reasonable regulation to establish, through service between them, for a single fare.

223 F. 371 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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