9th July 2010
NORTH EAST MEP BACKS NEW RIGHTS FOR BOAT, BUS AND COACH PASSENGERS
Passengers on boats, buses and coaches are set to win new rights after a crucial vote in the European Parliament.
Labour MEPs have backed proposals to give passengers on scheduled boat, bus and coach journeys the right to compensation if they face major delays.
The new rules will also grant passengers who are disabled or have reduced mobility with important rights, in terms of access to public transport services and the right to free assistance.
The rights being proposed are similar to those already in operation in the airline industry. They will include compensation for people who face significant delays or cancellations when taking ferries or long distant coach services.
"The European Parliament is determined to ensure that the travelling public have adequate protection against excessive delay and cancellations when they are travelling around Europe and that all modes of transport, not just aviation, are covered," said Stephen Hughes, North East MEP.
"We have a duty to ensure that companies treat their customers fairly and that disabled people don't face unfair barriers that prevent them from accessing transport services," added Mr Hughes.
While MEPs have now come to an agreement which means that ferry passenger rights will come into force in 2012, further negotiations are still needed on passenger rights for bus and coach travel before they become reality.
Stephen Hughes welcomed the deal reached for ferry travel, but said he was disappointed not to have reached a final agreement with government ministers on bus passengers' rights. He said: "Government ministers have constantly tried to water down provisions on passenger rights afforded to bus and coach travellers. It is now time the Council stopped dragging its feet and got serious about beefing up protection for passengers in this mode of transport."
From 2012 passengers of EU-based boat and ferry services carrying 12 or more passengers will be entitled to:
• Disability access, ensuring that services are available to all - disability cannot be a reason for denying passengers the right to board, something MEPs have fought long and hard for;
• Compensation if their journey is seriously delayed because of factors under the ferry operator's own control;
• A right to food, drink and, if necessary, accommodation when subject to long delays.
Similar rights have been supported for bus and coach travel, but the exact services to which these rights will apply still need to be decided in negotiations between MEPs and government ministers.
For further information, contact Cyndi Beaver on 07764198400