The Bus Passengers Rights Regulation [(EU) No 181/2011] of the EU protects consumers travelling long distances by bus since 2013. It is applicable when you use
- regular transport services (with specified timetable, route and stops) or
- occasional transport services (main characteristic: carriage by bus of groups of passengers constituted on the initiative of the customer or carrier himself),
- and where the boarding or the alighting point of the passengers is situated in the territory of a Member State and
- where the scheduled distance of the service is 250 km or more.
Please note that in principle the Directive does not apply to distances under 250km, e.g. popular routes like Vienna-Budapest, Vienna-Bratislava, Klagenfurt-Lignano, Innsbruck/Salzburg-Munich oder Graz-Ljubljana.
Exception: Even if the distance is less than 250km long, disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility are entitled to transportation without additional costs, compensation for lost or damaged medical equipment like wheelchairs as well as a general right to information.
What is the content of the Regulation?
In essence, the Regulation on the rights of bus passengers entails:
- Rights in case of death or injury
- Rights regarding lost or damaged luggage
- Rights in case of cancellation or delay
- Rights of disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility
- Information duties of the carrier
Compensation and assistance after accidents
If, due to an accident, you get injured or your luggage gets lost or damaged, you are entitled to compensation according to the Austrian tort law, given that it was the bus company's fault.
Furthermore, the carrier is obliged to provide you with accommodation, food, clothes and transportation, regardless of whether he is to blame for the accident. However, the carrier is allowed to limit the costs to € 80,- per night and passenger and to a maximum of two nights.
Cancellation, delay, overbooking
If the carrier estimates that
- the trip has to be cancelled,
- the departure will be delayed for more than 120 minutes
- the bus is overbooked,
he has to offer an onward journey to your final destination as soon as possible with no additional costs and under similar circumstances as the original tour, even if maybe on a changed route.
As an alternative, you can request a refund of the ticket price within 14 days. If the interruption occurs during your journey and you choose a refund, you are entitled to be transported back to your initial point of departure without further costs.
If the bus company fails to offer you the above mentioned options, it owes you a compensation of 50% of the ticket price, additionally to the transportation to your destination or the refund.
Information in case of cancellation or delay
The carrier has to inform you about the situation and the estimated departure and arrival time as soon as possible, 30 minutes after the planned departure the latest. Furthermore, if you miss your onward connection, he has to provide you with information about alternatives.
- the tour is cancelled or
- the departure is delayed for more than 90 minutes
- and the planned duration should have been longer than three hours,
the carrier has to provide you wiht food and refreshments, if available and reasonably accessible. Similar to the situation of an accident, he has to organise your accommodation for an overnight stay as well as your transportation to and from there. Again, the limit of € 80,- per night and passenger for two nights is applicable.
Further entitlements due to cancellations and delays are regulated by Austrian law.
Special rights for disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility
Disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility are entitled to transportation without additional costs. Carriers, travel agents and tour operators may refuse to accept a reservation from them, to issue a ticket to them, or to take them on board:
- in order to meet applicable safety requirements or in order to meet health and safety requirements;
- whenthe design of the vehicle or the infrastructure, including bus stops and terminals, makes it physically impossible to take on board, alight or carry the disabled person or person with reduced mobility in a safe and operationally feasible manner.
In this case you can demand to be accompanied by a person of your choice who is able to give the necessary assistance to make the above mentioned reasons void. The accompanying person has to be transported for free.
If you need assistance at the terminal and/or on board of the bus, you have to inform the carrier, terminal operator, travel agent or tour operator at least 36 hours in advance.
Inform the bus company about any special seating requirements directly at the reservation or booking.
If the carrier refuses your transportation even though you complied with all requirements and you have a ticket or reservation, you can choose between the following:
- reimbursement, and where relevant a return service free of charge to the first point of departure, as set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity; and
- except where not feasible, continuation of the journey or re-routing by reasonable alternative transport services to the place of destination set out in the transport contract
If your mobility aids or any other specific equipment is lost or damaged at the carriers or terminal operators fault, you're entitled to compensation according to replacement value or repair costs. Furthermore they have to provide you with temporary equipment which is a suitable replacement.
Filing a claim
You have to submit your claim within three months after the actual or planned transportation. The carriers or terminal operators often provide forms at the ticket booths or on their website.
If you can't find a solution with the carrier, you can turn to the arbitration body for ship passenger rights of the respective Member State. In Austria, the agency for passenger rights (apf) is competent.