Regulation 181/2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport completes the set of regulations covering passengers’ rights in all transport modes. It entered into force in 2013 and also includes provisions on accessibility for persons with disabilities. Similar to the air- and rail passengers’ rights Regulations it obliges operators to provide assistance.

However, one major shortcoming is that it only concerns cross-border services and certain domestic services above 250 km, thereby excluding many local and regional services which should also be made accessible. EDF is continuing its advocacy work for future improvement of these aspects and is actively monitoring the implementation with help of its members.

Concerning the accessibility of the vehicles, Directive 85/2001 relating to special provisions for vehicles used for the carriage of passengers comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat includes several provisions on the accessibility for persons with disabilities to new urban buses in the EU. It is related to technical specifications for motor vehicles and not, as most of the other Regulations, to passengers’ rights.

The requirements set out by the directive mentioned above can be summarized as the following:

  • There shall be at least one wheelchair accessible entrance. A kneeling system in combination with ramps or lifts should be installed for to allow the boarding.
  • A designed area for wheelchairs is required. A restraint system in order to warrant the stability of the wheelchair is required.
  • At least four priority seats in urban buses should be available for persons with disabilities and reduced mobility close to an entrance of the vehicle. Armrests that are easy to move out shall be fitted on seats between the seating position and the gangway. Handholds or handrails shall be fitted adjacent to priority seats in such a way as to allow the passenger to grasp them easily.
  • Under at least one of these seats, or adjacent to it, there should be space for a guide dog.
  • Adequate lighting shall be provided to illuminate the area inside and immediately outside the vehicle to allow people with visual impairments to board and alight in safety.
  • Accessible communication devices shall be placed adjacent to any priority seat and within any wheelchair area. The control for all internal communication devices shall be able of operation within the palm of the hand and shall be in a contrasting color.

The directive states that it is optional whether rural buses should be accessible or not. However, the Member States are encouraged to find an appropriate way to improve the accessibility to those vehicles as well. The Member States choosing to require accessibility for rural buses must follow the provisions of the Directive.

Another important EU initiative to facilitate travelling for persons with disabilities is the EU Parking Card (Blue Badge) which was introduced in 2000 by a Recommendation of the Council of the European Union. This Parking Card allows persons with disabilities to park on disabled parking spaces anywhere in the EU if they display the card in their car. Even though recognized throughout the EU, the national authorities are still responsible for issuing the Card in each Member State.


More information

Website of the European Commission on road passengers' rights