The European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) today accepted the compromise amendments tabled by its lead rapporteur on rules on driving and rest times for bus drivers.
TRAN, the lead committee on the file, voted in favor of compromise amendments tabled by its rapporteur overseeing the file, finally opening the door to rules designed for the bus driver profession.
Under the proposed amendments, tour bus drivers may, in addition to the current rules, split their 45-minute break into two breaks of at least 15 minutes each. On journeys of six days or more, tour bus drivers may, once per journey, extend their journey for an additional hour and recover the rest thereafter. They will also be able to operate longer domestic tours of up to 12 days, which are currently only possible for international travel.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said: “This is a big win for the EU tourism sector. More importantly, it’s a big win for tour bus drivers, who are finally getting rules designed for the specifics of their profession, rather than their fellow truck drivers, as it currently stands.
“It is now in the hands of the plenary, and later the formal trilogue with the Council, to ensure that tour bus drivers have the choice to organize their breaks based on the nature of their work and the needs of their passengers, giving prioritizing safety above all else.”
“Apart from the harm done to the welfare of bus drivers, the current rules are holding back Europe’s tourism sector by preventing the safest and most environmentally friendly form of collective passenger transport from thriving,” she added.
TRAN also proposed that control documents be digitized and stored on a multilingual website to be created by the European Commission and accessible for roadside control. The Commission is also required to explore the possibility of integrating the multilingual website as part of the Internal Market Information System (IMI) to further facilitate the exchange of information.
The next legislative step in the parliamentary procedure is a plenary vote in December.
“The file on the coach driver is due to be concluded in Parliament and the Council this year, allowing tripartite institutional negotiations to conclude by the end of February and for the law to come into force as early as 2024. Coach drivers cannot wait any longer.” They deserve rules made for their work. This is the minimum,” concluded Raluca Marian.
In May 2023, more than three years after the adoption of the EU’s Mobility Package 1, the European Commission recognized that the current rules for bus drivers are not suitable for the occasional passenger transport sector as they only reflect the needs of the profession truck driver, and made a promising offer.
The Commission’s proposal has since been improved by the Commission’s lead rapporteur TRAN on driving and rest time rules for bus drivers.
Tour bus drivers tailor their journeys to the pace of their passengers. This means more breaks and stops along the way and a mix of longer journeys (at the start and end of long-distance tours) and shorter journeys (during tours), with an average driving time of around 4.5 to 5 hours a day.
The dossier’s rapporteur, Hena Virkunen (EPP), together with shadow rapporteurs from all political groups, constructively negotiated a set of compromise amendments. The rapporteur’s proposal takes into account and further improves the recommendations made earlier by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, while strengthening the proposal and simplifying the application of future rules by digitizing control documents and practices.