Summary of passenger rights in bus and coach transport
Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Regulation') applies from 1 March 2013.
The minimum rights for passengers traveling by bus within the European Union are laid down in this Regulation.
In principle, this Regulation applies to 'regular services' (in other words: services provided at specified intervals along specified routes with passengers being picked up and set down at predetermined stopping points) 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 .
The following principles apply to all regular services, regardless of the scheduled route:
• non-discriminatory transport conditions,
• access for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to transport services at no additional cost as well as financial compensation in the case of the loss of or damage to their mobility equipment,
• minimum requirements for travel information for all passengers both before and during travel as well as general information about their rights;
• a complaint handling system set up by the transport companies that is available to all passengers,
• national enforcement bodies set up in all Member States for the purpose of enforcing the Regulation and punishing any violations.
In addition, the following rights apply to regular services where the scheduled distance of the service is 250 km or more (hereinafter referred to as 'long-distance transport'):
• the issuing of (electronic) tickets or other documents providing entitlement to transport,
• compensation and assistance in the case of death, personal injury or damage to luggage due to accidents,
• information in the case of cancelled or delayed departure,
• the right to reimbursement of the full ticket price or re-routing in the case of a cancellation of travel or long delay,
• adequate assistance in the case of cancellation or long delay (this only applies for trips with a scheduled duration of over three hours),
• compensation amounting to 50% of the ticket price if the carrier does not offer the passenger the choice between reimbursement of the ticket price or re-routing in the case of a cancellation or long delay,
• specific assistance for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility at terminals and in the vehicle at no additional cost.
However, Member States may, on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, exempt domestic regular services from the duty to grant these additional rights for a period no longer than 4 years, which may be renewed once (thereby extending the period to a maximum of eight years).
If a significant part of regular services (including at least one scheduled stop) is operated outside of the European Union then Member States may, on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, exempt regular services from the application of the entire Regulation for a period no longer than 4 years, which may be renewed once (thereby extending the period to a maximum of eight years).
Overview of passenger rights in bus and coach transport
1) Right to non-discriminatory transport conditions
No one may directly or indirectly discriminated against based on his/her nationality or on the place of establishment of the carrier or ticket vendor within the European Union when purchasing tickets for passenger transport services by bus or coach.
In the case of long-distance transport, the carrier shall issue the passenger a ticket (in electronic format, if necessary) as long as no other documents entitle the passenger to transport.
2) Right to information
All passengers in regular bus transport services have the right to be adequately informed during the entire journey. This includes the right to be informed of passenger rights and to be provided with the necessary information for contacting national enforcement bodies.
All essential information provided to bus and coach passengers should also be provided, upon request, in alternative formats accessible to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, such as large print, plain language, braille, electronic communications that can be accessed with adaptive technology, or audio tapes.
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 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 carrier shall provide this information by electronic means if the passenger has requested this and has provided the necessary contact details to the carrier.
3) Right to compensation and assistance in the case of accidents
Long-distance passengers have a right to compensation for death or personal injury as well as for loss of or damage to luggage due to accidents arising out of the use of the bus or coach The conditions and the amount of the compensation are subject to the applicable national law; only certain minimum amounts are defined in the Regulation. Compensations are not paid automatically but rather suits must be filed for compensation before national courts, if necessary.
In addition, the carrier must provide long-distance passengers with reasonable and proportional assistance with regard to the passengers' immediate practical needs following an accident. This assistance includes accommodation, food, clothes, transport and first aid, where necessary.
4) Right to continuation of the journey, re-routing and reimbursement of the ticket price in the case of cancellation or long delay
In the case of overbooking or if a carrier reasonably expects a regular service to be cancelled or delayed in departure for more than 120 minutes,
the long-distance passengers shall have the right to choose between
• re-routing to the destination, at no additional cost and under comparable conditions, at the earliest opportunity or
• reimbursement of the full ticket price, 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.
The passengers shall have the right to choose between these options even if the regular service is cancelled or if the departure from a terminal is delayed by more than 120 minutes.
If the carrier fails to offer the passengers the choice between reimbursement of the ticket price or re-routing in the situation specified above, the passenger shall have the right to compensation amounting to 50% of the ticket price.
This right to compensation and any ticket price reimbursement shall not preclude passengers from seeking damages in accordance with national law before national courts in respect of loss resulting from cancellation or delay of regular services.
Where the bus 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 possible.
5) Right to assistance in case of cancelled or delayed departure
For a journey of a duration of more than three hours the carrier shall, in case of cancellation or delay in departure from a terminal of more than 90 minutes, offer the passenger reasonable assistance. This includes snacks, meals or refreshments as well as accommodation if necessary (the carrier may limit the total cost of accommodation for each passenger to EUR 80 per night and for a maximum of two nights but the carrier is not obligated to assume the accommodation expenses if the cancellation or delay was caused by severe weather conditions or major natural disasters).6) Rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility
In addition to the general passenger rights, the following rights shall also apply to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility so that they can make use of the same travel options as other citizens.
a) Right of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to access to transport services at no additional cost
Carriers, travel agents and tour operators shall not demand any additional cost for reservations and tickets from disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility.
They shall also 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. Exceptions are only permitted if the transport of a disabled person or person with reduced mobility would not be possible in accordance with the applicable passenger safety provisions or the health and safety requirements of the responsible authorities or if it is not possible to transport the disabled person or person with reduced mobility in a safe and operationally feasible manner due to the design of the vehicle or the infrastructure.
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 specified above, they shall immediately inform the passenger — in writing, if requested by the passenger — of the corresponding reasons for this. In addition, in the event of a refusal to accept a reservation or to issue a ticket they shall inform the person concerned about any acceptable alternative service operated by the carrier. If the reasons for refusing a reservation from, to issue or otherwise provide a ticket to, or to take on board, a passenger can be eliminated through the presence of another person who can provide the assistance required then the passenger may request to be accompanied by another person of the passenger's own choosing at no additional cost.
If a disabled person or person with reduced mobility who possesses a ticket or reservation and has properly notified the carrier of a special need for assistance but the carrier nevertheless refuses to transport the passenger in long-distance services on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility then this person can choose between reimbursement of the ticket price and re-routing, insofar as the corresponding transport services are available.
The carriers and terminal managing bodies shall ensure non-discriminatory access conditions for the transport of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. They must make these conditions publicly available and make them physically available upon the request of the passenger.
b) Right to special assistance
In long-distance services carriers and terminal managing bodies must provide assistance free of charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility within their respective areas of competence.
Disable persons and persons with reduced mobility must notify the carrier of their special need for assistance at least 36 hours in advance and present themselves at the designated point of the terminal at the agreed time before the departure (no more than 60 minutes in advance).
c) Right to compensation in the case of the loss of or damage to mobility equipment
If mobility equipment (a wheelchair or other mobility equipment) is lost or damaged through the fault of a carrier or terminal managing body then the carrier or terminal managing body must provide compensation equal to the cost of replacement or, where possible, repair of the equipment lost or damaged.
Where necessary, every effort shall be undertaken to rapidly provide temporary replacement for the lost or damaged mobility equipment.
7) Right to submit a complaint to the carrier or a national enforcement body
Passengers can submit complaints within three months from the date on which the regular service was actually performed or was scheduled to be performed. Within one month of receiving the complaint, the carrier shall give notice to the passenger that the complaint has been substantiated, rejected or is still being considered. The carrier must provide the final reply within three months from the receipt of the complaint.
The specified deadlines shall not apply if the complaint involves issues relating to compensation for death or personal injury as well as the loss or damage of luggage as a result of accidents.
8) Enforcement of passenger rights
Each Member State shall designate a new or existing body or bodies responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation as regards regular services from points situated on its territory and regular services from a third country to such points. Each body shall take the measures necessary to ensure compliance with this Regulation.
Any passenger may submit a complaint, in accordance with national law, to the appropriate national enforcement body or to any other appropriate body designated by a Member State about an alleged infringement of this Regulation.
A Member State may decide that the passenger as a first step shall submit a complaint to the carrier in which case the national enforcement body or any other appropriate body designated by the Member State shall act as an appeal body for complaints for which no solution was found.
In Germany the passenger must first contact the carrier. Download Complaint Form
You can reach the national enforcement body for passenger rights using the contact information below:
Bürger-Telefon für Fahrgastrechte (Community helpline for passenger rights)
Phone: +49 228 30795-400
Fax: +49 228 30795-499
Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (Federal Railway Authority)
The passenger can also contact the following conciliation body in addition or instead:
söp Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr e.V. (German Conciliation Body for Public Transport)
Phone: +49 30 644 99 33-0
Fax: +49 30 644 99 33-10
Link European Commission
1*Summary in accordance with Article 25 Paragraph 2 of Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 [OJ L 55 from 28 February 2011, p. 1]. This summary is not legally binding.
2*In addition, the rights below shall also apply to what are known as 'occasional services' where the groups of passengers are constituted on the initiative of a customer or the carrier itself, as long as the initial boarding point or the final alighting point of the passenger is situated in the territory of a Member State:
a) non-discriminatory transport conditions,
b) the issuing of (electronic) tickets or other documents providing entitlement to transport,
c) compensation and assistance in the case of death, personal injury or damage to luggage due to accidents,
d) financial compensation in the case of the loss of or damage to the mobility equipment of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility
3*This provision 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
4*Member States may exempt domestic regular services from the application of the provisions that apply to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, provided that they ensure that the level of protection of these persons under their national rules is at least the same as under this Regulation.