Last reviewed 6 January 2021

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recently published details of changes ahead for international bus and coach services operating in the EU (see Post-Brexit details for bus and coach operators).

This indicated some of the shortcomings of the Interbus Agreement with regard to regular (scheduled) or special regular services, a point echoed by the European Commission in new legislation aiming to ensure basic road passenger connectivity following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

In a reminder that some EU legislation will still remain of interest to UK operators, Regulation (EU) 2020/2224, which can be found at eur-lex.europa.eu, notes that a Protocol to the Interbus Agreement regarding the international regular and special regular carriage of passengers by coach and bus was negotiated and the UK is expected to ratify it as soon as possible.

“It is not however expected that the Protocol will enter into force in time to offer a viable alternative solution for the period immediately after the end of the transition period,” the European Commission warns.

In order to prevent ensuing serious disruptions, the new EU Regulation will therefore establish a temporary set of measures which will cease to apply on 30 June 2021 at the latest.

The EU also recognises that cross-border coach and bus services between Ireland and Northern Ireland are of particular importance for the communities living in the border regions, with a view to ensuring basic connectivity between them as part of the Common Travel Area.

Therefore, the new Regulation states, the picking up and setting down of passengers by UK coach and bus service operators will continue to be authorised in the border regions of Ireland in the course of international passenger transport services by coach and bus between the Republic and Northern Ireland.