After many, many years finally there is the 'major victory for EU coach drivers and tourism' as the IRU calls it. The European Council presidency and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement that gives coach tourism drivers rules meant for their profession. With this coach tourism is finally recognised by European legislators.
Ever since the EU-regulation EG 561/2006 issued on 15 March 2006 the driving and rest time rules are a problem for the coach tourism sector. EG 561/2006 abolished the exceptions that applied to coaches and made them equal to freight transport in terms of driving and rest times. However, with the campaign 'A Coach is Not A Truck' in 2006, organized by Busworld, the coach tourism sector showed there are profound differences between the transport of people and the transport of freight.
Over 700 coaches from over 10 European countries protested in Brussels against EG 561/2006l in March 2006. Now, 18 years later, the Council presidency and European Parliament’s negotiators have agreed on specific driving and rest time rules for coach tourism drivers, allowing coach drivers to: Split their 45-minute breaks into two breaks of at least 15 minutes; Postpone their daily rest period by one hour once per trip, provided that the total accumulated driving time for that day has not exceeded seven hours; Drive longer national tours of up to 12 days, previously only possible during international trips.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian responded on this news and said, “We’ve done it. After years of advocacy, we’ve achieved one of the most important victories for the coach tourism business: the EU has finally recognised the specificities of the passenger transport sector. Coach tourism drivers will now operate under rules meant for their profession, rather than their truck driver colleagues. The new driving and rest time rules for coach tourism will not only improve drivers’ working conditions, they will also improve road safety. Targeted and specific driving and rest time provisions will allow coach tourism drivers to better react to their passengers’ schedules while also significantly reducing the stress generated by rules unfit for tourism.” Additionally, the journey form will be replaced by a digital form after the completion of a European Commission study,
which should be a first step towards the creation of an operational IMI-based platform to upload digital control documents. This welcome step towards digitalisation is further supported by the need to amend the tachograph specifications at the latest 18 months after the regulation enters into force to differentiate between scheduled and occasional services. “Coach tourism drivers tailor their journeys according to the pace of their passengers, the new rules will unleash the full potential of this environmentally friendly mode of transport. We look forward to the Council and the Parliament’s plenary to officially endorse the deal, which we have good hopes will not create any challenges. It’s now time to move on to implementing and enforcing the new rules,” concluded Raluca Marian.