Better protection for bus and coach travellers in the EU
Today, Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 on bus and coach passenger rights becomes applicable, providing bus and coach travellers throughout the EU with new rights. The regulation lays down travellers' basic rights, and imposes a number of obligations on bus and coach companies and terminal managers concerning their responsibility towards the passengers. Every year around 70 million passengers travel by buses and coaches in the EU.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "We have kept our promise: thanks to this regulation EU passenger rights are also extended to bus and coach transport. The EU is now the first area in the world with a full set of passenger rights for all modes of transport."
The bus and coach regulation lays down passenger rights similar to those for air, train and boat transport.
These new rights include:
- Non-discrimination based on nationality regarding tariffs and other contract conditions;
- non-discriminatory treatment for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. Specifically, free-of-charge assistance both at designated bus terminals and on board buses and coaches, as well as financial compensation for loss of or damage to their mobility equipment;
- adequate and accessible information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information in bus terminals and on the internet about their rights;
- reimbursement of the full ticket price or rerouting in case of overbooking, cancellation or delay of more than 2 hours from the estimated time of departure (only applicable for journeys of more than 250 km distance);
- compensation of 50% of the ticket price in addition to the reimbursement of the full price in case of overbooking, cancellation or a delay of more than 2 hours from the estimated time of departure, when the bus and coach company fails to offer the passenger the right to choose between reimbursement and rerouting (only applicable for journeys of more than 250 km distance);
- adequate assistance (snacks, meals, refreshments, as well as, if necessary, accommodation) in case of cancellation or delay of more than 90 minutes for journeys longer than 3 hours (only applicable for journeys of more than 250 km distance);
- compensation for death, injury, loss or damage to luggage caused by road accidents;
- a complaint handling mechanism established by the bus and coach companies and available to all passengers;
- setting-up of independent bodies in each EU Member State with the mandate to enforce the regulation and, where appropriate, to impose penalties.
Before the European Commission decided to present its proposal on bus and coach passenger rights five years ago, there was neither an international agreement applicable in most Member States nor any EU legislation establishing general rights for this mode of transport.
The adoption of the bus and coach passenger rights regulation in 2011 marked the completion of the legal framework for users of all transport modes at EU level. Today the EU is the first integrated area of passenger rights in the world: passengers are protected when they travel across the EU no matter whether they travel by air, by rail, by boat or by bus or coach.
The European Commission will hold the first meeting with national authorities during the autumn of 2013 in order to coordinate the effective application of bus and coach passenger rights legislation.
Copyright: European Union 2013