Denied by regulators, Tuktuk Lancaster to shut down its 'innovative' tour business

Tuktuk Lancaster, which offers sightseeing and food tours in Lancaster in a six-person electric auto rickshaw, announced Thursday that it will close July 23 after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Wednesday denied it a license to operate as a common carrier.

The PUC, in a 3-2 vote, said it was concerned about the safety of a three-wheeled “E-Tuk” vehicle, which it had never previously licensed.

The company, owned by Timm and Kristina Wenger, announced on its website that it would close down because it did not have the money to pay a lawyer to appeal the PUC’s decision. Without a license, it has been operating for free and asking clients to make a donation to a charity, which it said is not a sustainable business model.

Commissioner Robert F. Powelson, one of two dissenters, called the vehicle “a new and innovative form of transportation” and suggested that the PUC could grant it a two-year experimental certificate.

The PUC’s order noted that operations of a similar service in Brighton, England, were suspended in May after a man fell from the vehicle and was hit by a car, and two children were injured in another incident when the vehicle overturned at a school fair.