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Brussels, 1st July 2005

EU passengers travel with ease but still not fully aware of their rights

The majority of EU citizens find it as easy to travel within the EU as within their home country, according to a Eurobarometer survey on Passengers’ Rights which the Commission published today. Of the 24 000 people surveyed, 69% agreed that travelling to other Member States was easy. Over half of the respondents would be willing to purchase services from transport companies established in another Member State. When asked to identify deterrents to travelling within the EU, lack of information and high prices were the primary responses given.

Vice-President Barrot, Commissioner for Transport, said: “People with reduced mobility should be encouraged to travel more frequently. Today’s survey shows that they are not always adequately taken care of. I hope that the Council and the Parliament will quickly find an agreement on the Commission’s proposals to strengthen the rights of people with reduced mobility in international air and train travel”.

Markos Kyprianou, who is in charge of Health and Consumer Protection, added: “This survey is very enlightening, as it shows a confidence among European consumers to move freely within the Community. However, I would like to see more citizens made aware of the solid legislation that is in place to ensure their rights are protected and met when travelling.

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted to assess EU consumers’ level of awareness in their rights as passengers and to look at attitudes to different types of transport, given the increase in travel over the past decades. It also aimed to gauge the feelings of citizens towards travelling within the EU since the removal of borders.

Respondents in the Benelux countries were the most likely to deem travelling within the EU easy, with the Netherlands (84%), Luxembourg (82%) and Belgium (82%) having the highest rate of citizens agreeing, along with France (82%). The rate was lowest in Latvia (47%) and Ireland (50%). In addition to lack of information (44%) and high prices (30%), the main difficulties perceived in travelling within the EU were connection problems (26%), difficulties in purchasing tickets (25%), unreliable information (20%) and lack of frequency in transport offered (17%). The vast majority of citizens supported the idea of a single ticket for combined travelling for international trips, and over three quarters said that if there were a single enquiry service for travel information they would be likely to use it. These findings support the efforts by the Commission to establish integrated ticketing systems for international train journeys.

Ratings of the various transport systems were shown in the survey to be mixed. Air transport has a generally positive image, with a 72% overall satisfaction rating and good perceptions of most elements linked to this service. At the other end of the scale, only 13% of inter-city rail transport passengers would claim to be “very satisfied” while 9% stated they were “not at all satisfied” with this mode of transport.

The survey results showed that when it came to knowledge of their rights, two thirds of European citizens are aware that they have a contract with a transport company when they buy a ticket from them. However, only 35% knew about the rights and obligations linked to the contract, with the Belgians (76%), French (74%) and Danes (72%) the least likely to be informed. When it came to satisfaction as to how problems are dealt with when they arise, respondents showed the highest level of confidence in airlines (53%) to respond suitably when things do not go as scheduled. This level of satisfaction was lowest for local urban transport (35%).

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