The European Union's (EU's) bus and coach transport regulations are intended to ensure a high level of protection for passengers, wherever their destination.
Common rules are in effect as regards compensation of bus and coach passengers in the event of cancellation or significant delay, injury or death, or loss of baggage.
Who is concerned
Any passenger who uses regular long-distance services (250 km or more) departing from or arriving in an EU Member State.
The passenger must be in possession of a non-open ticket —a ticket on which the time of departure is recorded—or a subscription / transport card for regular service.
How to proceed
Obligation to provide information on passenger rights
Transport operators, as well as managers of stations at which stops are planned, must ensure that passengers receive, no later than at the time of departure, clear and relevant information about their rights.
This information is to be provided at the various stations and on the Internet, where applicable.
At the request of a disabled person (blind or sight-impaired, etc.) or of a person with reduced mobility, the information must be provided, insofar as is practically possible, in a format that is accessible to them.
The transport operator is the natural or legal person (other than a tour operator, a travel agent, or a ticket seller) offering transport to the public by means of regular or special services, while the station management entity is an organisation charged with managing a designated bus station/terminal.
Cancellation or delay
Obligation to provide information
In the event of cancellation or delay, the transport operator and/or the station management entity must ensure that information is provided on the situation:
- at the earliest opportunity; and
- no later than 30 minutes after the planned departure time; and
- inside the station premises or electronically.
If passengers miss a connecting service due to a cancellation or a delay, the transport operator or station management entity must make every reasonable effort to inform the passengers in question as to other available connections.
If a regular bus/coach service is cancelled, delayed by more than 120 minutes, or (actually or expected to be) overbooked, the following options are immediately available to passengers:
- continuing the trip or rerouting to their final destination at no additional cost, as quickly as possible, and on comparable terms; or
- reimbursement of the ticket price and, where applicable, the rerouting by bus or coach to the starting point, free of charge and as quickly as possible.
If the transport operator does not offer the passenger a choice, the passenger may demand compensation equal to 50% of the price of the ticket, in addition to the reimbursement. This amount must be paid within 1 month of the demand for compensation.
If the passenger is given a choice and opts for reimbursement, the reimbursement must be paid within 14 days of the claim. The refunded amount covers the entire cost of the ticket, at the price at which it was purchased, for the non-completed leg(s) of the trip and for the completed leg(s) of the trip, if the trip is no longer of interest given the initial travel plan.
The reimbursement is made in cash, unless the passenger agrees to another form of reimbursement.
If the passenger transport vehicle becomes unusable during the trip, the transporter is required to offer passengers the following options:
- continuing the trip, in another vehicle, from on the location where the bus or coach is immobilised; or
- transport from the site where the bus is immobilised to a suitable waiting point or station from which the service can be resumed.
Bodily injury or death
In the event of injury or death, the passenger (or the passenger's dependants) may receive compensation, including a reasonable amount for funeral costs in the event of death.
In the event of death of the passenger, the persons whom the passenger was or would have been legally required to maintain may exercise this right (children, parents, etc.).
The maximum amount of the compensation that may be obtained following a death or bodily injury may in no case be less than EUR 220,000.
Loss or physical damage
Passengers may be compensated for the loss of or damage to their baggage. The maximum amount that a passenger is entitled to receive may not be less than EUR 1,200 per bag.
Persons with reduced mobility
In the event of damage to wheelchairs or any other mobility equipment or means of assistance, the amount of the compensation is equal to the cost of replacing or repairing the lost or damaged equipment.
Obligation to provide assistance
Cancellation or delay
If a trip that is scheduled to last more than 3 hours is cancelled or delayed for more than 90 minutes, the transport operator must offer passengers, free of charge:
- snacks, meals, or refreshments in a reasonable quantity, if there are any on board the bus/coach or in the station, or if they can be delivered;
- a hotel room or other form of accommodation (including paying for the transfer) if necessary. The amount per passenger may be capped by the transport operator at EUR 80 per night and for no more than 2 nights.
Please note that this does not apply to passengers with an open-ended ticket on which the departure time is not stated, with the exception of passengers already holding a transport ticket or if they have a transport pass.
The accommodation requirement does not apply if the transport operator proves that the cancellation or delay is due to severe weather conditions or major natural disasters making it impossible to operate the bus or coach service safely.
In the event of an accident, the transport operator must provide reasonable and proportionate assistance in line with the passengers' immediate needs. This assistance includes, if necessary:
- first aid;
- accommodation. For each passenger, the total cost of the accommodation may be capped at EUR 80 per night for no more than 2 nights.
Lodging a complaint
If passengers believe that their rights have not been respected, they may lodge a complaint with the transport operator within 3 months of the date on which the regular service was or should have been carried out.
The transport operator then has one month to inform the passenger as to whether the complaint has been approved, rejected, or is still under review. The final response must be given to the passenger no more than 3 months after receipt of the complaint.
The passenger also has the possibility to make a written complaint to the Ministry of Consumer Protection regarding journeys departing from Luxembourg or arriving from a third country. The complaint must clearly state the facts that are alleged to constitute a violation of the passenger's rights, and must be signed by the passenger.
The complaint must be filed with the Ministry of Consumer Protection by registered letter within 3 months of the occurrence of the events. The Ministry of Consumer Protection then has 3 months following the date of receipt of the complaint to inform the complainant of its decision.
As the body responsible for the application of Regulation (EU) 181/2011, the Ministry of Consumer Protection can impose administrative sanctions against carriers who do not respect the rights of passengers.