PUC says no no to TukTuk

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, citing safety concerns, on Wednesday rejected the application of a Lancaster entrepreneur to give tours in a three-wheeled electrified vehicle known in Asia as an auto rickshaw, or a “tuk tuk.”

The PUC, by a 3-2 vote, rejected the application of TukTuk Lancaster for a paratransit license. The company operates a single six-passenger vehicle whose service it likened to that provided by Philadelphia horse carriages, which the company argued are not licensed by the PUC.

“This commission has never approved a three-wheeled vehicle as a common carrier and out of an abundance of caution, I believe that the commission would be best served to proceed cautiously and gather as much information as reasonably possible about the vehicles and the conditions in which they will be operating,” Gladys M. Brown, the PUC chair, said in a statement.

Commissioner Robert F. Powelson, one of two dissenters, called the vehicle “a new and innovative form of transportation” and suggested the PUC could grant it a two-year experimental certificate. He compared it to golf carts in Arizona or the amphibious “Duck” vehicles in Philadelphia and other cities.

Philadelphia’s Ride the Ducks suspended operations last year, citing a steep increase in insurance premiums following several fatal accidents.

Timm Wenger, TukTuk’s owner, declined to comment in a telephone interview on Wednesday.