An effort by the Utah Division of Public Utilities to tighten controls on contract-trucking firms has been rejected by the Utah Public Service Commission.

The commission ruled that the controls sought by the division contradict the intent of 1986 legislation that liberalized trucking laws.The division argued that highly regulated common carrier trucking firms are suffering from unfair competition by the less regulated contract carriers. The division asked the commission allow contract carriers to serve only those shippers with unique shipping needs requiring specialized equipment.

Basically, common carriers receive certificates from the commission and agree to serve shippers equally under similar circumstances and conditions within specified areas of operation. And, they are governed by commission approved tariffs and operating requirements.

Contract carriers work with specific shippers and contracts can involve more than one specific shipper.

The 1986 legislation was intended to increase competition in the local trucking industry, said Sen. Alarik F. Myrin, R-Altamont, who sponsored the legislation. Easing the requirements for contract carriers was meant to be an incentive to allow more trucking firms to enter the Utah market.

Myrin said he believes the change has improved delivery times through out the state and improved reliability because of the increased competition. He said the law does not prohibit common carrier companies from obtaining contracts and seeking contract authority.

Myrin also said he believes it is the Legislature's place to make changes in the law if needed.

While the division and the common carriers did not get what they wanted in the form of rule changes, they did gain one small concession.

The commission will no longer allow existing contracts to be routinely amended by the contract carriers. Instead, carriers will be required to file new applications for full review by the commission.

Commissioners believe this approach will help ensure that contract carriers are properly equipped and prepared to handle the new contracts.