- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A transportation service for people with disabilities is not barred by state rules from taking passengers on demand, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The high court’s ruling overturns a state commission’s decision last year that said the service may take fares on a prearranged basis only. It was the second favorable state Supreme Court ruling for Golden Plains Services Transportation in the last 14 months.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission had ruled that transportation services other than taxis and limousines - a classification known as “open-class carriers” that are not restricted to a certain geographic area and do not have to gauge fares by use of a taxi meter - may not provide on-demand transportation to passengers as taxis do.

Golden Plains Services Transportation appealed, arguing that the commission overreached in its interpretation of state rules governing open-class carriers.

The high court agreed, noting the rule for open-class carriers in the commission’s regulations makes no mention of such carriers being relegated to only prearranged fares, nor does it restrict open class carriers from providing on-demand services.

In fact, when the commission adopted the definition of an open-class carrier in 2002, it stated in a comment below the definition that the rule would grant carriers the flexibility to provide transportation “on a prearranged basis and demand basis, while, at the same time, widening the distinction between open class and taxicab service,” Justice Max Kelch noted in the ruling.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission responded to the ruling Friday by indicating it will likely change the rules to limit open-class carriers.

“The Commission respects the Court’s decision, and we are moving forward with rules and regulations that further define the difference between open-class carriers and taxi service,” the commission said in a written statement.

An attorney for Golden Plains did not immediately return a message Friday seeking comment.

Last year, the Nebraska Supreme Court sided with Golden Plains in a lawsuit by several taxi companies that had sought to keep it from expanding its business into Lincoln.

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