Press release

More rights for boat passengers but negotiations continue on bus passenger rights

Transport - 06-07-2010 - 13:57
Plenary sessions
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Boat passengers will have more rights as of 2012, thanks to a regulation approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday. The new rules provide for assistance and compensation in cases of delays, as well as free assistance to disabled passengers. The EP is pushing for similar rights for bus and coach passengers but this has still to be negotiated with the Member States.

Delays or cancellations of boat trips
Under the new rules, when a regular passenger boat or ferry service is cancelled or over 90 minutes late in departing, the passengers will have the right to be rerouted (in order to reach the destination earlier) or to receive back the ticket cost and not to travel (or else to return to the initial port of departure at the company's cost). This will not apply in the case of weather delays or other conditions outside the operator's control. Passengers must also be given snacks or meals, wherever possible.
In addition, regardless of whether they choose to travel or not, the passengers will be entitled to compensation of 25% of the ticket price for:
- journeys scheduled to last up to 4 hours which are delayed at arrival for at least an hour;
- journeys scheduled to last 4 to 8 hours which are delayed at arrival for at least two hours;
- journeys scheduled to last 8 to 24 hours which are delayed at arrival for at least three hours;
- journeys scheduled to last over 24 hours which are delayed at arrival for at least six hours.
If the delay is over double these minimum times, passengers will be entitled to compensation of half the ticket price.
The compensation will have to be paid in money if the passenger demands it. Additionally, if because of the delay passengers have to stay overnight before completing their journey, the operator will have to pay for their hotel expenses up to €80 per night (for not more than 3 nights).
Rights of people with disabilities or reduced mobility
The regulation states that disability may not be used as a reason for denying a passenger the right to board. Free assistance must be provided to disabled people in ports, on condition that the carrier or the port operator is notified when the reservation is made or at least 48 hours before boarding. This will also apply to cruise passengers.
These rules will enter into force in 2012. All passenger boats carrying over 12 passengers come under the rules, with some exceptions such as for excursion and sightseeing tours. Boat passengers will have more rights than currently stipulated under EU law for air passengers, as in the latter case there is no compensation for flight delays (only for cancellations).
Bus travel: negotiations ongoing
The EP has also adopted amendments to a draft regulation stipulating bus and coach passenger rights, such as ticket cost reimbursement or rerouting in case of delays in departure of more that two hours, as well as compensation of up to €1800 for lost or damaged baggage. Meanwhile, in the event of a passenger's death in a bus or coach accident, the amount of compensation should not be limited, argue MEPs. They also insist on free assistance or compensation if a bus breakdown delays arrival at the destination. Free assistance for disabled passengers must also be provided, they say.
MEPs want the regulation to apply not only to long-distance but also to regional bus transport. As negotiations with the Council have not been completed, a conciliation procedure is likely.
REF.: 20100705IPR77798