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Rights of Passengers in Bus and Coach Transport in the European Union

Warning

The information collected here is informative; only the texts published in the corresponding Official Bulletins have legal validity.

RIGHTS OF PASSENGERS IN BUS AND COACH TRANSPORT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Regulation (UE) nº 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport, published in the D.O.U.E. of February 28, 2011. It became applicable on 1 March 2013.

1. Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 and its scope

Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 lays down a series of minimum rights for passengers who travel by bus and coach in the European Union.

First, the Regulation shall apply to passengers travelling with regular services for non-specified categories of passengers 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.

As regards the regular services where the scheduled distance of the service is shorter than 250 km applies the rights related to:

  • Non-discriminatory transport conditions.
  • Access to transport for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, without additional costs and with financial compensation for the loss or deterioration of their mobility equipment.
  • Minimum Rules on information to all passengers before and during their travel, as well as general information about their rights.
  • An obligation to the carriers to set up a mechanism for handling claims available to all passengers.

Secondly the Regulation shall apply to passengers travelling with occasional services where the initial boarding point or the final alighting point of the passenger is situated in the territory of a Member State, with regard to the following rights:

  • Non-discriminatory conditions.
  • Compensation and assistance in case of accident.
  • Compensation in respect of wheelchairs and other mobility equipment (except for the temporary availability of temporary replacement equipment or devices).

2. Rights of bus and coach passengers.

Nondiscrimination.

The contract conditions and tariffs applied by carriers shall be offered to the general public without any direct or indirect discrimination based on the nationality of the final customer or on the place of establishment of the carriers, or ticket vendors within the Union

Except in regular services where the scheduled distance is shorter than 250 km, carriers shall issue a ticket to the passenger (it may also be issued in electronic format), unless other documents give entitlement to transport.

Right to travel information

In all regular services within the scope of this regulation, carriers and terminal managing bodies shall, within their respective areas of competence, provide passengers with adequate information throughout their travel. Where feasible, this information shall be provided in accessible formats upon request.

Information on passenger rights.

In all regular services within the scope of this regulation transport carriers and terminal managing bodies shall, within their respective areas of competence, ensure that passengers are provided with appropriate and comprehensible information regarding their rights under this Regulation at the latest on departure. This information shall be provided at terminals and where applicable, on the Internet. At the request of a disabled person or person with reduced mobility the information shall be provided, where feasible, in an accessible format. This information shall include contact details of the national enforcement body or bodies designated by the Member State.

Mobility: Access to transportation, tickets and fares.

In all regular services within the scope of this regulation reservations and tickets shall be offered to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility at no additional cost. Carriers, travel agents and tour operators shall not refuse to accept a reservation from, to issue or otherwise provide a ticket to, or to take on board, a person on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility.

Notwithstanding this, carriers, travel agents and tour operators may refuse to accept a reservation from, to issue or otherwise provide a ticket to, or to take on board, a person on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility:

  1. in order to meet applicable safety requirements established by international, Union or national law, or in order to meet health and safety requirements established by the competent authorities;
  2. Where the 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 the case of regular services whose scheduled distance is 250 km or more the next will apply:

  • If a carrier, travel agent or tour operator refuses to accept a reservation from, to issue or otherwise provide a ticket to, or to take on board, a person on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility for the reasons mentioned above (a and b), that person may request to be accompanied by another person of his own choosing who is capable of providing the assistance required by the disabled person or person with reduced mobility in order that the reasons set out in paragraph 1 no longer apply.

    Such an accompanying person shall be transported free of charge and, where feasible, seated next to the disabled person or person with reduced mobility.
  • When carriers, travel agents or tour operators have recourse to the exceptions mentioned above, they shall immediately inform the disabled person or person with reduced mobility of the reasons therefor, and, upon request, inform the person in question in writing within 5 working days of the request.
  • If a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility, who holds a reservation or has a ticket and reservation and duly informed the carrier about their specific needs and, is nonetheless refused permission to board on the grounds of his disability or reduced mobility, that person shall be offered the choice between
    1. the right to 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
    2. 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.

In cooperation with organizations representative of disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility, carriers and terminal managing bodies shall, where appropriate through their organizations, establish, or have in place, non-discriminatory access conditions for the transport of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.

  • These conditions shall be made publicly available by carriers and terminal managing bodies physically or on the Internet, in accessible formats on request, in the same languages as those in which information is generally made available to all passengers. When providing this information particular attention shall be paid to the needs of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. The information on access conditions shall be physically distributed at the request of the passenger.



Mobility: Accessibility of People with Reduced Mobility to stations and vehicles

In the case of regular services whose programmed distance is longer than 250 km, carriers and terminal managing bodies shall, within their respective areas of competence, at terminals designated by Member States, provide assistance free of charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, which will include at least the following:

Assistance and arrangements necessary to enable disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to:

  • communicate their arrival at the terminal and their request for assistance at designated points
  • move from the designated point to the check-in counter, waiting room and embarkation área
  • board the vehicle, with the provision of lifts, wheelchairs or other assistance needed, as appropriate
  • load their luggage
  • retrieve their luggage
  • alight from the vehicle
  • carry a recognized assistance dog on board a bus or coach
  • proceed to the seat

Carriers and terminal managing bodies shall cooperate in order to provide assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility on condition that the person’s need for such assistance is notified to carriers, terminal managing bodies, travel agents or tour operators at the latest 36 hours before the assistance is needed; and that the persons concerned present themselves at the designated point at the time stipulated in advance by the carrier which shall be no more than 60 minutes before the published departure time, unless a shorter period is agreed between the carrier and the passenger; or if no time is stipulated, no later than 30 minutes before the published departure time.

Also in the case of regular services with a scheduled distance longer than 250 km, carriers shall, on board buses and coaches, provide assistance free of charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, which will include at least the following:

  • Be provided with essential information on a journey in accessible formats subject to request made by the passenger,
  • Board/alight during pauses in a journey, if there are personnel other than the driver on board.

Mobility: loss or damage in respect of wheelchairs and other mobility equipment

In all regular services within the scope of this regulation, carriers and terminal managing bodies shall be liable where they have caused loss of or damage to wheelchairs, other mobility equipment or assistive devices. The loss or damage shall be compensated by the carrier or terminal managing body liable for that loss or damage. The compensation shall be equal to the cost of replacement or repair of the equipment or devices lost or damaged. Where necessary, every effort shall be undertaken to rapidly provide temporary replacement equipment or devices.

Death or personal injury to passengers and loss of or damage to luggage

Except in regular services where the scheduled distance is less than 250 km:

  • Passengers shall, in accordance with applicable national law, be entitled to compensation for death, including reasonable funeral expenses, or personal injury as well as to loss of or damage to luggage due to accidents arising out of the use of the bus or coach.
  • The amount of compensation shall be calculated in accordance with applicable national law. The Spanish Law for Land Transport establishes that for transports included in the scope of Regulation (EU) 181/2011, the liability of carriers for loss or damage to luggage as a consequence of accidents will be limited to 1,200 euros per item of luggage, unless expressly agreed upon some more favorable amounts or conditions for the traveler.
  • In the event of an accident arising out of the use of the bus or coach, the carrier shall provide reasonable and proportionate assistance with regard to the passengers’ immediate practical needs following the accident. Such assistance shall include, where necessary, accommodation, food, clothes, transport and the facilitation of first aid. For each passenger, the carrier may limit the total cost of accommodation to EUR 80 per night and for a maximum of 2 nights.

Tickets and tariffs.

See section: mobility: access to transport, tickets and tariffs.

Boarding, delays and cancellations

  • In the case of regular services with a scheduled distance longer than 250 km:

    In the event of cancellation or delay in departure of a regular service, passengers departing from terminals shall be informed by the carrier or, where appropriate, the terminal managing body, of the situation as soon as possible and in any event no later than 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time, and of the estimated departure time as soon as this information is available. If passengers miss, according to the timetable, a connecting service due to a cancellation or delay, the carrier or, where appropriate, the terminal managing body shall make reasonable efforts to inform the passengers concerned of alternative connections. Where feasible, the information shall be provided by electronic means to all passengers, including those departing from bus stops if the passenger has requested this and has provided the necessary contact details to the carrier.
  • Where a carrier reasonably expects a regular service to be cancelled or delayed in departure from a terminal for more than 120 minutes or in the case of overbooking, the passenger shall immediately be offered the choice between:
    1. Continuation or re-routing to the final destination, at no additional cost and under comparable conditions, as set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity.
    2. Reimbursement of the ticket price, and, where relevant, a return service by bus or coach free of charge to the first point of departure, as set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity.
  • Where a regular service is cancelled or delayed in departure from a bus stop for more than 120 minutes, passengers shall have the right to the continuation or re-routing or reimbursement of the ticket price from the carrier. This shall not apply to passengers with open tickets as long as the time of departure is not specified, except for passengers holding a travel pass or a season ticket.
  • If the carrier fails to offer the passenger the possibility of choosing mentioned above, the passenger shall have the right to compensation amounting to 50 % of the ticket price, in addition to the reimbursement of the ticket Price.
  • Where the bus or coach becomes inoperable during the journey, the carrier shall provide either the continuation of the service with another vehicle from the location of the inoperable vehicle, or transport from the location of the inoperable vehicle to a suitable waiting point or terminal from where continuation of the journey becomes posible.
  • For a journey of a scheduled duration of more than 3 hours the carrier shall, in case of cancellation or delay in departure from a terminal of more than 90 minutes, offer the passenger free of charge:
    1. Snacks, meals or refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time or delay, provided they are available on the bus or in the terminal, or can reasonably be supplied.
    2. Hotel room or other accommodation as well as assistance to arrange transport between the terminal and the place of accommodation in cases where a stay of 1 or more nights becomes necessary. For each passenger, the carrier may limit the total cost of accommodation, not including transport to and from the terminal and place of accommodation, to EUR 80 per night and for a maximum of 2 nights. This shall not apply where the carrier proves that the cancellation or delay is caused by severe weather conditions or major natural disasters endangering the safe operation of bus or coach services.

Loss or damage of luggage that is not the result of an accident

Although this assumption is not regulated by this Regulation, The Spanish Law for Land Transport establishes in these cases that the liability for damages or losses suffered by the baggage will be limited to 450 euros per piece, unless expressly agreed some amounts or more favorable conditions for the passenger.

3. Complaint handling mechanism

Without prejudice to claims for compensation if a passenger covered by this Regulation wants to make a complaint to the carrier, he shall submit it within 3 months from the date on which the regular service was performed or when a regular service should have been performed. Within 1 month of receiving the complaint, the carrier shall give notice to the passenger that his complaint has been substantiated, rejected or is still being considered. The time taken to provide the final reply shall not be longer than 3 months from the receipt of the complaint.

The aforementioned deadlines do not apply to compensation for death, personal injury, loss or damage to luggage in the event of an accident.

In the event that the Regulation is infringed, passengers can submit claims to the competent national enforcement body (see next section).

4. National enforcement bodies. Special reference to transport arbitration boards.

Each Member State has designated one or more national enforcement bodies responsible for the enforcement of rights mentioned in the Regulation. In Spain, the implementing bodies of the Regulation are the Ministry of Development (with competences on public works and transport) and the Departments of Transport of the Autonomous Regions, each in its area of competence, without prejudice to the powers that correspond to the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), dependent on the Ministry of Health, Social Policies and Equality.

In the context of regular services, the national enforcement body is responsible for compliance with the Regulation as regards regular services from points located in the territory of the Member State and regular services from a third country to such points.

On the other hand, Transport Arbitration Boards are created in all the Autonomous Regions and in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Their main purpose is to resolve commercial claims related to the enforcement of land transport contracts and auxiliary and complementary transport activities. The Arbitration Boards resolve claims and intervene in conflicts of economic content in relation to different types of land transport services, including those made by bus and coach.

For more information about the Transport Arbitration Boards, click here.

Transport Claim Arbitration Boards (Juntas Arbitrales del Transporte)

5. Rights of passengers on bus and coach and the European Commission.

European Commission is working to protect passenger rights on all modes of transport and to guarantee the enforcement of the community regulation that includes these rights.

For acceding to the information on passenger rights that Commission makes available and to the list of National Enforcement bodies and to the designated terminals where assistance pointed out on this Regulation (UE) nº181/2011 shall be provided, click on the following link:

European Commission Bus and coach passenger rights (Comisión Europea-Derechos Viajeros Carretera)

For acceding to the information that Commission makes available on passenger rights for all modes of transport, click on the following link:

European Commission passenger rights (Comisión Europea-Derechos Viajeros)

6. Enforcement of Regulation (UE) nº 181/2011 concerning the rights of passengers on bus and coach transport in Spain

In Spain, the Ministry of Development and the Departments of Transport of the Autonomous Regions are the competent bodies on procedure and solve claims on the scope of the Regulation (UE) nº 181/2011. On the other hand, all of them provide the information related to the number and nature of claims to the to the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), competent of statistic and data coordination with the different Autonomous Regions (On the complaint handling mechanism, the mentioned Agency receipt the complaint and send it to the competent National Enforcement Body whether the Ministry of Development or the correspondent Autonomous Department).

Data Table

Year

Number of Complaints

Reason of Complaint

Comments

From 1 of January of 2017 to 31 of December of 2017

22 Canceled or delayed departures  
8 Lack of information
1 Complaint form
10 Accesibility

From 1 of January of 2017 to 31 of December of 2018

54 Canceled or delayed departures  
10 Lack of information
5 Complaint form
5 Accesibility

In Spain, passengers may submit the complaint directly to the competent Authorities, without have submitted previously to the carrier and to the terminal managing bodies. In relation to the complaints form, the existing distribution of competences in Spain, the Spanish Autonomous Regions Model, doesn´t make possible to lay down a sole form in this issue for all the Autonomous Communities. Nevertheless, it is expected to add to the web page of this Ministry of Development a complaint-form where the users may submit directly the complaint. Additionally, the regulation developing the Law on Land Transport intends to lay down an obligation for the sites where the purchase and sale of tickets takes place to provide the means allowing the submission of complaints through its website.

Now, the submission of complaints can be made on paper, by email, and in person in the offices of the Ministry of Development or of the Autonomous Department competent on transport.

Apart from the judicial route in the issue of transport by road there is an extrajudicial enforcement which is very successfully and is called the Transport Arbitration Boards. These Transport Arbitration Boards depends on the Administration of the Autonomous Communities; exists throughout the national territory and are composed of a chairman with a degree in law and picked among personnel of the Administration expert in the matters of competence of the Boards, sometimes by members appointed, also, between Administration staff and by two members appointed by the Administration at the proposal of the representative organizations of the different sectors involved in conflicts. In the case of these conflicts, in addition to the chairman and, where appropriate, the administrative members, a representative of the bus passenger transport undertaking either from the passenger transport terminal or from the travel agencies and another representative of consumer and user advocacy organizations.

The regulations for these Transport Arbitration Boards are included in the articles number 36 and 37 of the Law 16/1987, of 30 July, related to Land Transport, articles from 6 to 12 of the Royal Decree 1211/1990, of 28 September, developing Land Transport Law and, supplementarily, in the Law 60/2003, of 23 December, related to Arbitration.

Regarding the types of complaints are the following:

  • the ones that may result in applying a penalty to the infringements of the provisions of this regulation whose resolution is a responsibility of the appropiate National Enforcement Body such as appropriate Town Council Body, Department of Transport of an Autonomous Region or appropriate Department of Ministry of Development.
  • the ones that may result in a compensation to the passenger: in this case the passenger is entitled to seek compensations through the Transport Arbitration Boards or the courts, being decisions of both mandatory for the parties.

Information and Statistics on penalties:

Data Table
Year Number of penalties imposed

Type of penalties imposed

Reason of penalties

From 1 of January of 2017 to 31 of December of 2017

- - -

From 1 of January of 2018 to 31 of December of 2018

5 Complaints

Art. 26 Regulation (UE) 181/2011 Art.141.17 LOTT

Regarding to the penalties imposed, the one imposed was the result of a complaint submitted but mainly are the result of inspections carried out and are always imposed by the competent national authority.

Concerning measures to ensure compliance with this regulation, monthly inspections are carried out for example at premises, terminals or road controls to check the compliance of passengers in bus and coach transport services with regulation and contract rules.

In addition there is a continuous and close coordination between the different National Enforcement Bodies and representative of Passengers Advocacy Organizations, the representative of disabled persons Spanish Committee (CERMI), the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) and the Spanish Council of Consumers and Users.

Up until now it hasn´t been necessary to cooperate with national enforcement bodies of other Member State to carry out joint inspections or joint complaint handling nevertheless this is a real possibility.

Regarding users information, the website of Ministry of Development provides the information related to rights of passengers on all modes of transport, including the ones of passenger in bus and coach. This information contains specific references to Regulation (UE) nº 181/2011 and links to Commission Webpage containing information referred. In addition, in periodic coordination meetings with the Autonomous Communities, the dissemination of these rights is promoted. Likewise, the transport sector is informed of any incident related to the community norm, and of the need to inform travelers of their rights. On the other hand, in the next legislature it is foreseen to approve general conditions of hiring in which, among other subjects, all the rights contemplated by the Community Regulation will be collected, and with respect to those foreseen to be given maximum diffusion.

Regarding the obligation that Article 11 of the Community Regulation imposes on carriers and terminal managing bodies, when appropriate through their organizations, to establish or provide non-discriminatory access conditions for the transport of persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility, making publicly available these conditions, the application of this provision is guaranteed by Royal Legislative Decree 1/2013, of November 29, which approves the Consolidated Text of the General Law on the rights of persons with disabilities. disability and its social inclusion, as well as by Royal Decree 1544/2007, of November 23, which regulates the basic conditions of accessibility and non-discrimination for access and use of modes of transport for people with disabilities.

In addition, among the control standards for undertakings, are being processed other new ones that shall require them to provide to the passenger at the beginning of the journey, by appropriate means, the information on access conditions concerning the terminals and bus stops and of the vehicle.

Spain has not enforced any of the exemptions that the Community Regulation allows to make use of, applying in its entirety.

 

Additional information

Years 2015-2016

Information and statistics in handling claims:

Data Table

Year

Number of Complaints

Reason of Complain

Comments

(in your case):

From 1 of January of 2015 to 31 of December of 2015

67 Canceled or delayed departures  
8 Lack of information
2 Complaint form
2 Accesibility

From 1 of January of 2016 to 31 of December of 2016

42 Canceled or delayed departures  
5 Lack of information
1 Complaint form
4 Accesibility

Information and Statistics on penalties:

Date table
Year Number of penalties imposed

Type of penalties imposed

Reason of penalties

From 1 of January of 2015 to 31 of December of 2015

- - -

From 1 of January of 2016 to 31 of December of 2016

1 Complaints

Art. 26 Rgto. (CEE) 181/2011 Art.141.17 LOTT

Years 2013-2014

Information and statistics in handling claims:

Date table

Year

Number of Complaints

Reason of Complaint

Comments

(in your case):

From 1 of January of 2013 to 31 of December of 2013

22 Canceled or delayed departures  
5 Lack of information
3 Complaint form
0 Accesibility

From 1 of January of 2014 to 31 of December of 2014

84 Canceled or delayed departures  
33 Lack of information
3 Complaint form
1 Accesibility

Information and Statistics on penalties:

Date table
Year Number of penalties imposed

Type of penalties imposed

Reason of penaltie

From 1 of January of 2013 to 31 of December of 2013

- - -

From 1 of January of 2014 to 31 of December of 2014

- -

-