IRU welcomes the new EU Passenger Mobility Package to improve passenger rights across all transport modes. But many bus and coach operators will struggle to cope with a heavy additional burden on their IT and digital system resources.
The EU Passenger Mobility Package, announced yesterday, targets important changes to the existing Passenger Rights Regulation for bus and coach carriers, which has been in effect for over ten years. The current rules apply to bus and coach transport for scheduled distances of 250 km or more within the EU, regardless of the length of individual passenger journeys.
The proposed changes prioritise stronger enforcement of passenger rights and better passenger information across all modes of transport.
However, they do not take into account the structure of the sector compared to other transport modes. Notably, the vast majority of EU bus and coach operators are small and medium-size businesses with limited resources for digital system development.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “While acknowledging the potential positive impact of providing information on individual passenger rights in bus and coach transport electronically, mandating electronic processing for reimbursement claims and publishing biannual quality reports will be a huge challenge for many bus and coach operators.
“Many operators, particularly those relying on terminal ticket sales, lack the needed electronic infrastructure. Some companies don't even have a website and would have to create one solely for compliance.
“New regulations should specifically target operators with existing means of electronic communication to avoid placing a huge additional administrative burden on smaller companies that already operate on tight margins.”
IRU particularly welcomes the new proposal for a Multimodal Passenger Rights Framework, addressing for the first-time issues such as intermediary liability and seamless transport for multimodal journeys. This will apply to journeys where passengers use at least two modes of transport.
This framework introduces varying levels of ticket integration, with corresponding roles and responsibilities for carriers and intermediaries. Notably, there is a focus on passenger rights regarding disability, assistance, information provision and liability for missed connections.
“IRU welcomes the introduction of clear rules for intermediaries selling single or combined multimodal tickets. It is unfair to hold bus and coach carriers responsible for missed connections when they sell tickets for just one leg of the journey through an intermediary, as the ticket is sold separately and communication is managed by the intermediary.” said Raluca Marian.
“Consider a scenario where a bus company, managing five buses, sells a ten Euro ticket to transport a passenger later catching a flight. Holding the bus company accountable for missed flight connections, whether due to inaccurate passenger information or other reasons, seems disproportionate. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the intermediary selling the multimodal ticket. These nuances require additional clarification in the legislative process,” she added.
Mobility data space framework
In an effort to streamline information exchange within the mobility sector, the Commission also introduced the EU Mobility Data Space framework and revised the Delegated Regulation on EU-wide multimodal travel information service (MMTIS).
The current MMTIS has been in place since 2017, and requires data holders, such as transport operators, transport authorities and infrastructure managers, to make certain information accessible via national access points in each Member State. Until now, this was limited to static data, but will now be expanded to dynamic data.
It is important to note that third parties will not have automatic access to dynamic data once the national access points receive the company links to the relevant information. Data will be available only upon further agreement between the third party and the data holder.
“The Commission's rules must clarify that only transport operators that have these data already digitalised should make them accessible via national access points. Any new obligation to digitalise information or create new digital data sets for the purpose of sharing them would require costly investments by companies and authorities, especially if we are talking about real-time data sharing. This is not obvious in the published rules, and we urge the Commission to clarify this aspect in further guidance notes,” highlighted Raluca Marian.
“We appreciate that access to data is not automatic. It may take a lot of investment to get these data and make them available. It is only fair to give transport operators the right to set a price for what they have,” she added.
MMTIS is a Commission delegated act and therefore will not be subject to legislators’ scrutiny and change.
The initiative for a common European mobility data space (EMDS) was also adopted today. This is a non-binding framework to improve access to, and sharing of, transport and mobility data, making use of existing and future data initiatives.
IRU particularly welcomes the mention of the Access to Vehicle Data initiative within the European mobility data space framework.
Preserving user choice over third-party access to in-vehicle data is crucial, with access requiring an existing contractual relationship for service provision.
However, sector-specific legislation should not provide an additional legal basis for governmental access to data, but should preserve the exceptional nature of public authority access, as envisioned in the Data Act.