Bus passenger rights apply to long-distance bus journeys with a distance of more than 250 kilometers. The arrival or departure location is situated within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or the United Kingdom.
More and more bus companies offer numerous connections, in Germany and across national borders. This evolution has been facilitated by an EU regulation which came into force on March 1st, 2013. Since then travelers enjoy not only a broader offer and lower prices, but they also benefit from better legal protection if a bus is heavily delayed or cancelled.
The new EU regulation regarding passenger rights determines that bus travelers must be offered snacks and refreshments (if available) for delays of more than 90 minutes if the planned trip duration is greater than three hours. If necessary, transfer to and a stay at a hotel for up to two nights must also be organized.
If a trip is cancelled without a replacement, in the event of non-transportation due to overbooking or if the departure is delayed for more than 120 minutes, the bus company must propose alternative transportation to the destination or reimburse the full travel fare. The traveler can also claim free transportation back to the location where the trip originated. If the bus company refuses this transportation, the traveler can claim a compensation of 50% of the travel fare in addition to the reimbursement of the entire travel fare.
In the event of cancellation or delay in departure, passengers shall be informed by the carrier of the situation as soon as possible and no later than 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time. Passengers should also be informed of the estimated departure time as soon as this information is available.
The bus companies are only liberated from this liability in case of natural catastrophes or extremely bad weather conditions which make a safe continuation of the trip impossible.
In the event of an accident, the bus company is obliged to pay compensation to injured travelers or the relatives of victims, up to a liability sum of 220.000 EUR in case of death or serious injuries of a traveler. The liability for lost or damaged suitcases is also determined. In all EU member states, the maximum compensation for lost or damaged suitcases is 1.200 EUR.
The regulation applies to long distance trips in the regular national or cross-border networks for distances exceeding 250 km – inner city bus traffic can be excluded from this regulation by the member states. Regardless of the travel distance, the European Parliament has determined twelve basic rights in the regulation: People with impaired mobility or handicap are specially protected, i. e. by easy access to the means of transportation. The bus company’s responsibilities to provide information to travelers before and during the trip are also specified in detail.