I have today laid before Parliament a statutory instrument applying exemptions to EU Regulation 181/2011 on the rights of passengers in bus and coach travel. The exemptions are as follows:
with the exception of certain mandatory provisions in the EU Regulation, member states may on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, exempt domestic regular services from the application of the regulation for 4 years from 1 March 2013, which may be renewed once (article 2(4))
for a maximum period of 4 years from 1 March 2013, member states may, on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, exempt from the application of the regulation particular regular services because a significant part of such regular services, including at least 1 scheduled stop, is operated outside of the EU - such exemptions may be renewed once (article 2(5))
a member state may for a maximum of 5 years from 1 March 2013 grant an exemption in respect of drivers from the requirement for disability awareness training for personnel of carriers and terminal managing bodies (article 16(2))
The statutory instrument will apply in Great Britain. In line with government policy on European regulations, these exemptions will be applied in full. However, in response to concerns from the public about disability awareness training for bus and coach drivers, I will review the use of this exemption after one year to see whether drivers are receiving adequate training under the voluntary measure being undertaken by the bus and coach industry. I will be introducing further legislation to designate enforcement bodies later in the year.
Member states can also permanently exempt domestic regular services from the majority of Chapter III on the ‘rights of disabled persons and persons with restricted mobility’ where their national rules provide the same or better level of protection. As I explained when we consulted on transposing this regulation, it cannot always be guaranteed that the level of protection will be the same as under the EU Regulation, and therefore I do not believe we can make use of this exemption.