Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport aims to prevent discrimination by bus and coach operators. Bus Users is the body nominated to oversee complaints on bus and coach services in Great Britain outside London (where London TravelWatch has the same role).
In Northern Ireland the Department of the Environment is the nominated body.
Under the regulation:
Bus companies can't charge you a different fare based on your nationality or on any disability you may have (though free travel for concessionary pass holders is not affected by this regulation).
Bus and coach companies can't 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, unless it is physically impossible to board a disabled passenger or it would be against health & safety legislation.
All staff who deal with the public (though for the time being this doesn't apply in the UK to drivers) have to be trained in disability awareness. Training has to cover:
- awareness of and appropriate responses to passengers with physical, sensory (hearing and visual), hidden or learning disabilities, including how to distinguish between the different abilities of persons whose mobility, orientation, or communication may be reduced,
- barriers faced by disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, including attitudinal, environmental/physical and organisational barriers,
- recognised assistance dogs, including the role and the needs of an assistance dog,
- dealing with unexpected occurrences, interpersonal skills and methods of communication with deaf people and people with hearing impairments, people with visual impairments, people with speech impairments, and people with a learning disability,
- how to handle wheelchairs and other mobility aids carefully so as to avoid damage (if any, for all staff who are responsible for luggage handling)
If a bus or coach company loses or damages any mobility aids, such as a wheelchair, they have to replace them or pay for repairs.
Victoria Coach Station in London, Birmingham Coach Station and Europa Buscentre in Belfast are nominated as coach stations where assistance has to be given to disabled passengers.
These are required to enable passengers with disabilities 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 area,
- 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 recognised assistance dog on board a bus or coach,
- proceed to the seat.
Bus companies and terminal managers have to be able to supply passengers with adequate information about their journey and about their complaints procedure.
There are additional rights for passengers on coach services longer than 250km between EU Member States. These include:
- Reimbursement of the full ticket price or rerouting in case of overbooking, cancellation or delay of more than two hours from the estimated time of departure
- Compensation of 50% of the ticket price in addition to the reimbursement of the full price in case of overbooking, cancellation or a delay of more than two hours from the estimated time of departure, when the bus and coach company fails to offer the passenger the right to choose between reimbursement and rerouting
- Adequate assistance (snacks, meals, refreshments, as well as, if necessary, accommodation) in case of cancellation or delay of more than 90 minutes for journeys longer than three hours
- Compensation for death, injury, loss or damage to luggage caused by road accidents
Click here to download a quick guide to the regulations in the UK. Further details of the full regulations are available . Please note that in the UK the rights applying to services of more than 250km apply only to journeys to other EU countries (eg London-Dublin, London-Paris), not to services within the UK which are currently exempt from the regulation.
The UK 2013/14 report on the UK's activities under the regulations was published on 1 June 2015; read it here.
All complaints should be sent to the bus or coach company to deal with: Bus Users will get involved if you don't manage to get a satisfactory response.