Public hearings

Public hearings

Sometimes there is a public hearing about an application. These hearings allow the Passenger Transportation Board (Board) to hear from applicants, submitters and their witnesses. The Board may decide to hold a hearing based on information in the application file.

The Board may decide to hold a hearing if: 

  • There are many submitters  
  • There is conflicting evidence on file  
  • The application raises a significant policy issue

The Board publishes notices of hearings on its website.  

What is a hearing?

Board hearings are less formal than court hearings.  

The Board hears testimony from the applicant, submitters and their witnesses. These witnesses can be questioned by others as well as Board members. This process allows the Board to assess whether the evidence is credible and reliable.

Occasionally, the Board may invite a person as a guest to give evidence at a hearing. Participants may represent themselves or have an agent or lawyer represent them.  

Members of the public may observe the hearings unless the Board holds a private or in-camera session. In such cases, the public and some of the participants are asked to leave the hearing room.

Most documents and other information entered as exhibits in hearings are public documents.

Request an adjournment

Applicants or submitters may ask the Board to adjourn, or delay, the hearing. Adjournment requests must be in writing. They must be copied to the applicant and any known submitter.  

The Board reviews all adjournment requests and considers the following before deciding to adjourn the hearing:

  • The reason for the adjournment
  • Whether an adjournment would cause an unreasonable delay
  • The impact of refusing an adjournment on the applicant
  • The impact of the adjournment on the public interest 

Hearings proceedings

Hearing panels usually are made up of one or two Board members. The Board Chair assigns hearing panel members and appoints a hearing chair.  

The panel makes the decision. If there are two panel members and they do not agree on the decision, the decision of the hearing Chair will be the decision of the Board.

Most public hearings go like this:

  • Introduction and opening statements: The applicant makes its statement and then submitters make their statements.
  • Applicant’s case: The applicant presents its witnesses and other evidence. Witnesses will be asked to affirm the truth of their statements. Witnesses may be questioned by submitters.  
  • Submitter’s case: Submitters present their witnesses and other evidence. Witnesses will be asked to affirm the truth of their statements. Witnesses may be questioned by submitters.  
  • Exhibits: Evidence that is not oral evidence will be entered as an exhibit. Exhibits are public documents unless the Board receives them in confidence.
  • Closing statements: Submitters give their statements first. The applicant gives its statement last.  
  • Hearing adjourned: The Board adjourns the hearing. This ends the hearing.  
  • Board decision: The Board reviews the evidence from the hearing and makes its decision. The decision is sent to the applicant and the Registrar of Passenger Transportation. A copy is also sent to hearing submitters. The Board’s decision is published on the Board’s website. 

Pre-hearing conference

Before the hearing, applicants and submitters will participate in a pre-hearing conference led by a Board member. The conference date is in the hearing notice.  

The purpose of the pre-hearing conference is to discuss hearing procedures and processes. The Board will ask participants to give an overview of the evidence they will present. Participants will be asked how many witnesses they are going to call and to give a summary of any documents or other evidence that they will present.

At the pre-hearing conference, the Board will set dates for exchanging witness lists and documents or other evidence.  

The Board may also make rulings on matters raised by participants, such as adjournments.