A summary of passengers' rights on coach transport¹
Regulation: (EU) Nr. 181/2011, with immediate effect from 1st March 2013.
In this regulation, the minimum rights of passengers on board buses travelling within the EU are set. This regulation applies in principle to 'regular services' (In other words, services that are provided at fixed intervals with specific pre determined stops) and for unspecified groups where the point of departure and/or point of arrival is within the European Union.
The following fundamental rights apply to all regular services regardless of the scheduled:
- non-discriminatory contract conditions.
- Wheelchair and mobility impaired accessiblity free of chair and available compensation in case of damage to mobility equipment.
- Minimum requirements for all passengers before and for the duration of the journey. Also, general information about passenger rights must be provided.
- A process for handling all complaints must be in place and accessible for all passengers.
- An independant National body established in each member state, available to enforce regulation and penalise infringements where necessary.
For regular services, where the distance is more than 250km, the following rights apply:
- Passengers have the right to travel using e-tickets and other electronic documents.
- Compensation and assistance in the case of death, injury, loss or damage to luggage due to accidents.
- Information on delayed or cancelled departures.
- Entitlement to a refund to the full price of the ticket and/or the further onward re-routing in case of a delay/cancellation
- Adequate assistance in case of a long delay in departure only applies to journeys longer than 3 hours.
- Compensation amounting to 50% of the total ticket price, if the carrier does not offer the passenger in the case of a cancellation or delay, the choice between reimbursement and onward re-routing.
- Help for mobility impaired or disabled passengers free of charge on the bus and at the bus stop.
The member states have the right to waive the obligation to grant the rights in a non-discriminatory manner for a maximum period of 8 years. (They can renew their 4 year license once).
Finally, this does not apply however to member states who are outside of the European Union.
Overview of passenger rights on board vehicles
1) The right to non-discriminatory transport conditions.
Passengers who purchase transport service tickets within the EU cannot be discriminated against directly or indirectly by on the grounds of his/her nationality/place of establishment. In long haul services, the carrier issues a ticket to the passenger (possibly in electronic form) unless other documentation gives the right to transport.
2) The right to information.
All travellers on a bus trip have the right to be adequately informed for the duration of the trip. This includes the right to information on passenger rights and the access to the necessary contact details of national enforcement bodies.
All relevant general information and the conditions of carriage shall be made available to disabled or mobility impaired passengers in an accessible form (e.g. large print, simple language, brail and voice recorder).
On long haul journeys, in case of a cancellation or delay in departure, the carrier must inform all passengers as quickly as possible. This should be no later than 30 minutes prior to departure and as soon as the information is readily available. If a passenger misses a connection to a transport service, then the terminal managing bodies must make every reasonable effort to inform him/her of alternative connections. When the passenger has provided the necessary contact details to the service provider and where feasible, the transport service should provide the information electronically.
3) Entitlement to compensation and assistance in case of accidents.
On bus and coach services, the passenger is entitled to compensation in the case of death or personal injury and loss of or damage to luggage resulting from the use of the transport service. The conditions and the amount of compensation are subject to national legislation; only certain minimum amounts of compensation are set in the regulations. Compensation is not automatic but must be enforced by the courts where necessary. In addition the transport service shall provide appropriate assistance after an accident in long distance line services, taking into account the immediate practical needs of the passengers. The assistance can include accommodation, food, clothes, transport and where necessary first aid.
4) Entitlement to continue a journey, or access to a re-routed journey and reimbursement in the case of a cancellation or long delay.
In the event of a double booking or if the carrier is aware of a delay in departure of more than 120 minutes then the passenger involved is entitled to the following:
- The onward re-routing to their final destination free of charge at the earliest possible time and under similar conditions.
- Reimbursement of the full ticket price, and where appropriate, provide transport free of charge to the original place of departure.
This option is also available to customers of there is a cancellation or a delay for more than 120 minutes.
Should the carrier not provide the option of a reimbursement or onward re-routing in the said situation, then the passenger is entitled to a 50% reimbursement of the fare price.
This claim for compensation and fare refund does not impede on a passenger right to pursue before national courts, in accordance with national law, claims due to impairments they have suffered due to delay or cancellation in transport services.
Should the bus become inoperable during the journey, the bus service shall provide additional transport to bring their passengers to the required destination or if necessary to a nearby waiting point or terminal, from where the journey can continue.
5) Entitlement to assistance during cancellation or delay in departure.
On trips in remote line services with a duration of more than 3 hours, the passengers on board are entitled to adequate assistance if the trip is cancelled or delayed for more than 90 minutes. This can include snacks, meals, refreshments and accommodation if necessary. (The carrier has the right to limit the cost of accommodation available to 80€ per night for a maximum of two nights. Carriers are not obliged to accept accommodation expenses if the cancellation or delay is caused by adverse weather conditions or a natural disaster).
6) Rights of passengers with a disability or mobility impairments.
For disabled/mobility impaired passengers the general passenger rights apply along with the following additional rights:
a) The access to additional services at no extra cost.
Carriers, travel agents and tour operators do not have the right to charge additional fees for bookings that involve disabled and/or passengers with a mobility impairment. They also cannot refuse to make bookings for disabled passengers, or remove passenger from on board a bus due to a disability or mobility impairment. In accordance with the Passenger Safety and the Healthy and Safety requirements regulations, exceptions can be made only when the transport of a disabled/mobility impaired person is not possible in a safe manner due to the design or infrastructure of the vehicle. Should a carrier, travel agent or tour operator refuse to make a reservation, issue a ticket or take a passenger on board due to the above reasons, they are obliged to notify the passenger immediately in writing, outlining the reasons why. Furthermore, he has to right to notify the passenger in question ia any other acceptable service provided by the operator. If the problem can be remedied by the assistance of an accompanying helper, then this person has the right to travel free of charge. If a disabled/ mobility impaired who has purchased a ticket and has dually informed the carrier of his her impairment prior to departure, and is still refused transport services, then the person in question is entitled to a full refund and where possible a re-routed journey. The carriers and terminal operators must provide non-discriminatory access to the conditions of transport of disabled persons. These conditions must be readily available to the public and must be physically available upon request from the passenger.
b) Right to special assistance.
On long distance journeys, carriers and terminal operators must assist disabled/mobility impaired passengers where possible. Disabled/mobility impaired passengers must notify the service provider at least 36 hours in advance of departure, if they require special assistance. They must also arrive at the designated location at an agreed time prior to the journey (max 60 minutes).
c) Right to compensation for damaged or lost mobility equipment.
If through the fault of the carrier or terminal operator, loss or damage to mobility equipment (a wheelchair or other assisting device) occurs, compensation must be provided, which corresponds to the replacement value or repair costs of the equipment. When necessary, every effort must be made to temporarily replace lost or damaged mobility equipment.
7) The right to file a complaint with the service operator or national enforcement agency.
Passengers must submit complaints within three months after the actual/planned bus service. The carrier must then within one month of receipt of complaint give notice to the passenger whether or not his/her complaint was upheld, rejected or still being processed. The passenger must receive a definitive within three months of lodging the complaint.
These mentioned periods of time do not apply to incidents related to compensation for death, personal injury and damaged luggage due to accidents.
8) Implementation of passenger rights.
Each member state shall designate a body/bodies responsible for the enforcement of the rights set out in regulation.
The national enforcement agency is responsible for the enforcement of regulation in relation to regular bus services from within the territory of the member state, and from another country to their state.
Each passenger may submit a complaint for an alleged breach of regulations at the relevant national body. A member state can then inform the passenger that he/she has to make a complaint first with the carrier. The national body then acts as an appeal boy for complaints for which no solution was found.
1) This summary is in accordance with Article 25, paragraph 2 of regulation (EU) no.181/2011 on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and the amending regulation (EC) no. 2006/2004 [ OJ. L 55, 28.2.2011 , p.1 ]. This summary is not legally binding.
2) In addition the following rights are applicable for private groups who have booked outside the normal booking procedure, and when the trip is within a member state:
a) Non-discriminatory transport conditions
b) The display of electronic tickets or other relevant documentation give entitlement to transport
c) Compensation in the event of death, injury and damage/loss to luggage due to accidents
d) Financial compensation for loss or damage to equipment for disabled/mobility impaired passengers
3) This provision does not apply to passengers with open dated tickets unless the departure time is fixed. Season ticket holders are an exception.
4) Member states may make regular domestic services exempt from these regulations, so long as they meet the requirements set by national law for disabled/mobility impaired passengers.
If interested you can find the full text of the regulation here: Regulation (PDF)
National enforcement agency for the rights of passengers:
National Phone No: 0228 / 30 795 – 400