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regulatory law | Transportation Overview

In the early 20th Century, reformist Governor Hiram Johnson created the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to check the power of the railroads. For the first 60 years, its principal charge was to regulate the intrastate transportation of passengers and property by rail, truck, vessel or airplane.

Over time, Congress has preempted much of the CPUC’s jurisdiction over transportation. But the CPUC retains broad regulatory authority over companies that provide ground transportation of passengers or household goods, as well as the many privately owned vessels that operate in California, such as commuter or sightseeing ferries. Airport shuttle vans, tour buses, limousines and moving companies all operate pursuant to authority granted by the CPUC.

The CPUC also has the final say over the construction of rail crossings (or grade separations) throughout California, and limited jurisdiction over the operations of even government-operated light rail systems such at the
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