European Parliament votes this week to liberalise the bus and coach sector in Europe

12 Feb 2019

This week, in Strasbourg, the Members of the European Parliament will give the green light to liberalisation of bus and coach services across the EU. At the ETF, we are astonished that just three months before the EU elections there is an appetite for a drastic decision. After all, this move will without a doubt create a climate of exacerbated competition, allowing private bus and coach operators to fish for profitable lines while operating on super reduced costs and pushing their drivers to the limit. Germany liberalised bus and coach services in 2013, and two years later the number of breaches against working time limits had tripled!

And here’s what bus and coach drivers in our affiliate union have to say about this proposal:

“This is basically a vote against road safety!”

“There is nothing in the European Parliament deal for the workers! It’s all about business benefit. More competition in bus and coach means for sure closing some lines. And here are the job losses. This is a badly thought proposal.”

“And here is another vote in favour for more pressure on drivers, to work longer hours and record these hours as rest time – it’s cheaper for the operator!”

“What’s this vote all about? Well, it’s about bring social dumping in bus and coach, as we have it in road goods transport.”

“If under the current rules FlixBus wants to operate in Belgium, it’ll do it with a Belgian subcontractor. The European Parliament now votes to make it possible for FlixBus to bring into Belgium any subcontractor from any country, to do the same work. And we’ll end up with the same problems as experienced by the truck drivers: sleeping in cabins, fictive return home schemes, no application of posting rules.”

Now the ETF is sounding the alarm. The bus and coach sector is a very finely balanced one. Public service passenger transport accounts for a significant part of the bus and coach services that the European Parliament wants to see liberalised. Many EU citizens depend on these services. But liberalisation means that only profitable bus routes may survive. That is why the ETF calls for the European Parliament to reject this proposal! Liberalisation means wild competition, cost cutting, less investment in public transport, and low quality jobs and service!