New EU regulation in force from 1.3.2013
EU Regulation No 181/2011 changes the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport within the whole EU. The Regulation sets out the basic rights of passengers and bus operators and also imposes a number of obligations with regard to their responsibility for passenger.
Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Transport said: "We have kept our word - with this new regulation, the EU passenger rights are now extended to the bus and coach transport. The EU is the first geographic area in the world, with equal comprehensive passenger rights for all means of transportation."
The regulation for bus and coach passengers sets new rights that are comparable to those prevailing in the air, rail and marine transport regulations.
These new rights include:
- a prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality in relation to rates and other terms and conditions;
- a prohibition on discrimination of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. This includes in particular the free assistance at designated terminals and on board of buses and coaches as well as financial compensation for loss of or damage to their mobility aids;
- the availability of adequate and accessible information for all passengers, both before and during the trip, as well as general information about the rights of passengers in bus stations and on the Internet;
- the right to a refund of the full fare or to continue by re-routing in case of overbooking, cancellation or delay of more than 2 hours to the scheduled departure time (but only when driving over a distance of more than 250 km);
- the right to compensation in the amount of 50% of the fare in addition to the refund of the full price for overbooking, cancellation or delay of more than 2 hours to the scheduled departure time if the bus the passenger does not offer the choice between continue by re-routing and reimbursement (but only when driving over a distance of more than 250 km);
- Adequate assistance (snacks, meals or refreshments and accommodation if necessary) in case of cancellation of a flight or a delay in departure by more than 90 minutes for journeys of over three hours (but only when driving over a distance of more than 250 km);
- Compensation for death or injury to passengers and loss of or damage to luggage due to road traffic accidents;
- Establishment of a system for processing of complaints by the bus company that is available to all passengers;
- Establishment of independent national bodies in all EU Member States with the job of enforcing the regulation and to punish infringements if necessary.
Up until 5 years ago, there was neither an international agreement for most Member States, nor any EU legislation determining general regulations for this means of transportation.
With the adoption of the Regulation on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport in 2011, the legal framework for users of all modes of transport at EU level has been completed.
The next steps
In fall 2013 the European Commission will organize a first meeting with the national authorities to coordinate the effective implementation of the legislation on passenger rights in bus and coach transport.