New Europe-wide rules have been proposed giving bus passengers more rights essentially on longer national and crossborder trips. They bear some similarity to rights applied to other forms of transport but with numerous points left flexible, meaning not necessarily needing to be enforced for another 15 years. Other points are non-negotiable.
Ulrich Weber, with the International Association of Public Transport, said: “Some basic rights against discrimination for persons with reduced mobility will also be mandatory for urban and suburban regional services, and we agree with that.”
However, transport companies are not required to modify their vehicles or bus stations. This means extra help will not be available everywhere all the time. The raised standards are supposed to be brought in without shaking up national networks.
But inconvenienced passengers can expect at least something, said an industry representative, European Travel Agent and Tour Operators’ Michel de Blust: “A long delay or cancellation is going to entitle the passenger either to re-routing — leaving with another coach, later — and/or reimbursement of the ticket price if he couldn’t reach his destination.”
If a passenger is hurt or killed during a trip, operators would be liable up to 220,000 euros per person. Lost or damaged luggage could mean claiming 1,200 euros per piece.
Passengers would also have the right to certain information about their trip and to effective complaints procedures. If the proposal from Brussels is approved, companies would have two months to contest a passenger claim before it is considered accepted.