Bus passenger rights apply to all long-distance bus passengers.
If the bus is delayed or the journey is cancelled, you have the right to compensation. If the delay is at least 120 minutes, you can even have the fare refunded.
The prerequisite for the application of bus passenger rights is that the planned route is more than 250 kilometres and the place of arrival or departure is within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.
Different rules apply to local bus journeys (less than 250 kilometres).
For bus journeys, it always depends on the departure delay. If the departure is delayed due to extraordinary circumstances, for example bad weather or traffic jams, the bus company does not have to pay.
Bus delay of at least 90 minutes
The bus company must provide you with free snacks and drinks.
If necessary, the bus company must also arrange accommodation in a hotel (up to two nights and a maximum of 80 euros per night and person). Exception: if the delay or cancellation was caused by natural disasters or adverse weather conditions.
Both apply only if the scheduled journey time is more than three hours.
Bus delay of at least 120
If the bus is delayed by more than 120 minutes at departure, or if the journey is cancelled, you have the choice between
- alternative transport to your destination under comparable conditions
- reimbursement of the ticket price.
If the company does not inform you of these rights, you can claim an additional 50 per cent of the ticket price as compensation.
Please note: If you have opted for alternative transport to your destination, you will not be reimbursed for your ticket.
Tip: Obtain route information if possible. That way you don't have to wait 120 minutes for a refund
If the long-distance coach journey has been cancelled with departure from a coach station and a scheduled journey time of more than 3 hours, then the coach company must offer them a snack and refreshments free of charge.
If necessary, the bus enterprise must organise a hotel room (2 nights per passenger and max. 80 euros per night). Does not apply: in case of adverse weather conditions or natural disasters.
If you have missed your connecting flight or train due to the cancellation or delay of the bus journey, you will only be entitled to compensation for the missed onward journey if it is a related booking. The bus company is not liable for anything you booked separately after the journey. The situation may be different under national law if the route was shorter than 250 km.
Also important to know: You will not get a replacement for the ticket of the cancelled journey on top of the replacement transport, as you would otherwise travel free of charge.
If the bus breaks down or the journey has to be interrupted for another reason, you are entitled to replacement transport. If you are not offered equivalent substitute transport, you can choose between:
- Reimbursement of the fare and a free return journey to your point of departure, or
- Reimbursement of the cost of comparable alternative transport to the contractual destination booked by you.
At least you must be transported from the place of the accident to a place from which you can continue your journey (for example, a railway station). If necessary, the bus company must also arrange accommodation in a hotel (up to two nights and a maximum of 80 euros per night and person) and snacks.
If you do not return to your point of departure, you will only be reimbursed for the part of the journey you did not make.
Also important: it must be comparable transport, which means preferably bus. This can also include a train, but not a taxi. The assessment may be different if the journey takes place at night and there is no other choice. Again, for journeys of less than 250 km, national law may come to a different conclusion.
The same applies to catering: A multi-course meal in a star restaurant is not considered appropriate.
It also gets complicated if you do not continue to the contractual destination, but to your actual final destination. Even if it seems practical, it is advisable to at least make a stopover at the originally booked destination.
- Always book bus trips with sufficient time buffer
- Keep all receipts and vouchers of your expenses
- Get written confirmation of the delay/cancellation
- Before you leave the bus stop: If there is an app, then check there for the whereabouts of the bus, get text messages about the delay and/or call the bus company
Bus leaves a passenger behind
It is not uncommon for a person travelling to discover after a break that the bus has left the rest area without him or her. These cases are always very difficult to assess and solve in practice. Reason: Hardly anyone can prove that he or she was on time at the bus, especially if the other passengers were able to continue their journey.
Therefore the following tips:
- Only take breaks, including toilet breaks, at official rest stops and not at the boarding and alighting stops, unless the bus driver specifies a time for the onward journey here.
- Let a seatmate know
- Always arrive back at the bus a little earlier.
- Keep an eye on the other passengers. If several passengers are missing, the bus driver is more likely to notice than if only you are missing.
Bus leaves from another stop
If the bus actually departs from a stop other than the one announced and you have not received any information about this, the chances of compensation look good. However, travellers often overlook such additional information, including the information on the whereabouts of the bus in the app. We recommend that you always keep up to date until the bus departs.
The EU regulation provides for liability in the event of loss of or damage to luggage as a result of accidents only. The amount of compensation is calculated according to national law, although the regulation stipulates that it must not be less than certain amounts.
In the far more common case of luggage disappearing or being damaged other ways, passengers are also protected. Long-distance buses have a duty to transport not only passengers but also luggage properly*. If the luggage disappears or is damaged, you are entitled to compensation. You should report the damage to the bus drivers, to the police and in writing to the company.
The problem is usually the proof. The contents of the suitcase and its current value are decisive. The burden of proof lies with the passenger. If your hand luggage is stolen from the passenger compartment, the situation is somewhat different: Since you have the responsibility for it, you cannot claim compensation from the bus company if it is stolen. Reporting the theft to the police is independent of this.
* Judgement of the AG Munich (File No.: 283 Js 5956/15)
- Before departure, clearly mark your luggage with your name to avoid confusion.
- Valuables (money, jewellery, electronic devices, medication) belong in your hand luggage.
- Photograph the contents of your luggage before you travel
- Receipts and invoices for missing or damaged goods make it easier to prove it.
- Check your luggage during stops.
In the case of bus and coach travel, bus and/or coach undertakings, tour operators and travel agents may not in principle exclude the booking or carriage of persons with reduced mobility or disabilities.
Unless for safety reasons, due to the design of the vehicle or the infrastructure.
If your booking or transport is refused, you can insist on the free travel of an accompanying person if their assistance enables you to comply with safety regulations and overcome barriers.
During the bus journey, you will receive assistance getting on and off the bus if there are other staff on board apart from the driver.
To be on the safe side, the assistance should be registered with the bus company, bus station operator, tour operator or travel agent at least 36 hours in advance
Whatever goes wrong on the trip: you can complain. You must submit your written complaint to the bus company within a period of 3 months from the day of the journey. After this period, you must expect to lose claims. This does not apply to contractual claims. So, do not waste any time. If the company does not answer you within 2 months, your complaint is considered accepted.
If you do not succeed in reaching an agreement with the bus company, you can turn to the ECC. A conciliation procedure at the SÖP is also possible.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.