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News (22/12/2014)

Passenger rights: Eurobarometer survey shows one in three EU citizens are aware of their rights when travelling

The European Commission released today the results of a new Eurobarometer survey on passenger rights. Nearly one third of EU citizens are aware of their rights and obligations when buying a ticket to travel (31%), although 59 % said to be unaware of them. The results also show a very high level of satisfaction among those passengers who need assistance due to a disability or reduced mobility: 81% of them were happy with the assistance received.

Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport said: "Citizens are my number one priority when it comes to European Transport and I want to ensure that they are aware of their rights when travelling. It is important that rights don't only exist on paper. Today's survey shows that progress has been made, particularly for persons with a disability or reduced mobility, but clearly more can be done. However let's not forget that all EU citizens are covered by passenger rights under EU law wherever and however they travel - this is already a brilliant achievement for our Union. Now, our priority will be to make sure all Europeans know their rights when they travel. Let's work together to achieve this!"

Compared to 2009, the last time a similar survey was carried out, the percentage of EU citizens aware of passenger rights has remained roughly the same. But the survey also shows that only 29% of European citizens have heard that passenger rights have been recently extended, and are now applicable to all modes of transport in the EU: by air, rail, water, or bus and coach. This shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement for communicating passenger rights to the citizens.

Here are some other interesting results from the survey:

Use of transport services

The use of transport services in the EU has risen slightly since 2009 (78% of European citizens have used transport services compared with 72% in 2009). This means that although the percentage of Europeans aware of passenger rights remains the same, the actual number has slightly increased. Local urban transport was the most used (59%), followed by national rail transport (34%) and air transport (28%).

Disruption of transport services and application of passenger rights

Three passengers in ten had faced travel disruption (e.g. cancellations or long delays) in the last 12 months, most frequently during a train journey (17 %), or when travelling by plane (12 %). The most common form of disruption was long delays (69%). More than half of respondents who experienced travel disruption were dissatisfied with the way passenger rights such as the rights to information, assistance or financial compensation were applied. Most Europeans, however, know the proper course of action in the event of cancellation or delay: they would contact the operating company first (68%).

Passenger complaints in case of disruption

Only 35% of travellers who experienced a problem travelling decided to lodge a complaint, but 51% of them were satisfied with the way their complaints were dealt with. Most of those who had not complained considered that it was useless to do so.

Provision of information on passenger rights for different transport modes

Respondents felt that long-distance coach services were best at providing full information about the ticket price but closely followed by air and international railway services (46, 45 and 44 % respectively). They also thought that air transport services generally provided better information than others about the details of journeys. However, overall Europeans think that transport companies do not inform them properly about their rights as passengers, regardless of the type of transportation (only 31,5 % were satisfied).

Transport noise

Lastly, results suggest that noise disturbance is a fairly common problem in the EU: over half of respondents (52%) said they were disturbed by transport noise in their daily life. Most respondents believed that additional measures to reduce noise should be financed by public authorities (45%) or transport companies (39%).

Background

The report on "Passenger Rights" published today aims at measuring the knowledge, understanding and appreciation European citizens have of their rights when travelling by air, rail, ship, bus or coach in the EU. It also assesses in how far citizens are disturbed by transport noise.

This survey was carried out by TNS Opinion & Social network in the 28 Member States of the European Union between 13 and 22 September 2014. 28,050 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face at home in their mother tongue on behalf of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.

For more information

Full Eurobarometer special 439-420

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Video: Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc statement