Although travelling by coach is a largely reliable means of getting from A to B, like any transport method, it too can have its hiccups. There are simple tips to avoid such mishaps, such as following your journey provider on Twitter and Facebook to ensure you keep up to date with delays or cancellations. You can also check service updates on the National Express site here or use their real-time coach tracker. But if worst comes to worst and you’re left waiting for a service that seems like it may never turn up, what compensation is available for you as a consumer?
In March 2013 EU regulations were introduced to bus and coach travel for the first time, making Europe the first continent to have passenger rights enforced via all modes of transport. As well as offering rights in regards to delays and cancellations, the legislation also laid out the following:
- Passengers must have access to relevant journey information both before and during travel. General information must be available within bus terminals.
- Passengers with reduced mobility must find free-of-charge assistance at designated terminals and whilst onboard a service. If mobility equipment is damaged whilst on the service, compensation must be available to be sought.
- Passengers can claim compensation for loss, injury or damage to luggage, should they be unfortunate enough to experience any of these.
- Passengers can easily find out their rights via the Internet or in bus terminals.
- Bus and coach companies must provide necessary means for customers to make complaints and claim compensation.
The Minimum to Claim Compensation
In order to claim any compensation in regards to delays or cancellations, the journey being made must take longer than 3 hours to complete, or be greater than 250 km in distance. Examples of long-haul journeys that exceed this distance include London to Manchester, Glasgow to Cardiff, Liverpool to Oxford and Exeter to Leeds.
Rights to “Adequate Assistance”
Providing the journey fits the above minimum requirement, if a delay or cancellation leaves customers waiting for 90 minutes or more, companies must offer “adequate assistance”. This will be available in the form of snacks, refreshments and possibly accommodation if required.
Rights to Compensation of Ticket Costs
Providing the distance of the journey is greater than 250 km, compensation of the full ticket price may be sought in the following scenarios:
- If customers are delayed for more than two hours
- If the coach or bus service has been overbooked
- If the coach or bus service has been cancelled
How to Claim
As one of the stipulations to the legislation, companies must offer a means by which passengers can make a complaint and claim compensation. These means will vary depending on the company, but a quick email or call to their customer services will get the ball rolling. These new passenger rights are enforced by an independent body who can impose penalties on companies that do not comply.
If your journey involves air travel, we have a guide to flight cancellations and consumer rights here. You may also be interested in our guide to train delays and cancellations which can be found here.