The rights gained by air travellers under EU rules are set to be replicated for travellers by bus, coach and boat: two regulations backed on Tuesday by the Transport Committee provide for stricter rules on compensation for delays and cancellations, payments in the event of accidents and assistance for disabled passengers. MEPs adopted at first reading a report by Gabriele Albertini (EPP-ED, IT) on rights of bus and coach passengers (32 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions) and a report by Michel Teychenné (PES, FR) on the rights of passengers travelling by sea and inland waterway (18 for, 0 against, 14 abstentions).
Compensation for delay or cancellation
Maritime transport companies will have to provide passengers with information as well as compensation if a journey is interrupted, as follows:
- 25% of the ticket price for a delay of between one and two hours;
- 50% of the ticket price for a delay of two hours or more;
- 100% of the ticket price if the carrier does not provide another transport service under reasonable conditions or information about alternative transport.
Bus and coach passengers, where a trip is cancelled or delayed more than two hours (for journeys scheduled to last at least three hours), will be entitled to other transport services within a comparable time or, if that is impossible, information about other available services. Failing this, companies must pay compensation of half the ticket price.
Advance payments in the event of death or accident
If a passenger is injured or dies as the result of a bus or coach accident, the transport company must pay without delay an advance on the compensation in proportion to the harm suffered. In the event of death, the advance payment may not be less than €21,000.
To protect small road transport firms, an amendment was tabled stating that companies are not required to pay if the accident was caused by circumstances beyond their control.
MEPs agreed to take account of specific nature of water transport, defining cases of force majeure where the compensation rules would not apply: extreme tidal conditions, strong winds, significant wave heights and formation of ice.
Rights of people with disabilities or reduced mobility
People with reduced mobility may not be refused the right to board a ship, bus or coach except where their safety would be endangered. MEPs ensured that the disability of a passenger cannot be used as a reason for denying them the right to board.
Free assistance must be given to disabled people in ports but operators must be informed at the time the reservation is made or at least 48 hours in advance. The staff of a maritime transport company must receive adequate information in order to be able to provide assistance. MEPs added a clause requiring companies to provide passengers with written confirmation of the assistance that will be provided.
Coaches: only national and international transport
MEPs agreed thatMember States should be allowed to exclude bus and coach transport in urban, suburban and regional areas from the regulation's scope, reflecting theparticular nature of such services. However, special measures toguarantee passengers' rights on these services must be taken by individual Member States.
Procedure: Co-decision, first reading -- Plenary vote: April II, Strasbourg 31/03/2009 Chair : Paolo COSTA (ALDE, IT) REF. : 20090330IPR52904
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