Intermodal transport links are currently a hot topic both in Finland and at the EU level. The EU Commission has come up with a proposal to integrate air and rail tickets. In Finland, Minister of Transport Anu Vehviläinen has called for more effective intermodal transport links.
The EU Commission has proposed the integration of air and rail tickets to better facilitate EU citizens reaching their destinations. The objective is that, in the future, bookings for air and rail could be made at the same time and potentially could be issued with one integrated ticket. Later on the system could be complemented by local transport bookings to enable true door-to-door travel arrangements. The Commission suggests that the system would be developed and financed by the business sector.
The passenger must not be left in a jam
Along with other stakeholder groups the Consumer Agency has commented on the Commission's proposal. It is of particular importance to ensure that the new system will not compromise consumer rights. When several modes of transport are linked together, it is crucial to protect consumer rights even when one part of the journey is delayed or cancelled or when the passenger has to cancel the journey on his or her own initiative. Those whose itinerary includes several air or rail operators should be able to rely on one responsible party whom they could contact if problems arise. Consumer rights should be at least at the same level as provided for by the current decree on overbooked flights.
There are also several other details to consider. For instance, the distances between the airport and the railway station may be quite long, which raises the question of what the costs of transport between those two points are, who is responsible for it and how is the time needed for that transfer taken into account in scheduling. The questions related to luggage handling are also certain to interest consumers. In its statement, the Consumer Agency suggests that the working group charged with developing the project further should include consumer representation.
Integrating train and bus tickets in Finland?
At the domestic level the Minister of Transport, Anu Vehviläinen, encourages mass transit operators to harmonise their services. Speaking at the seminar ”Better living through well functioning mass transit”, the Minister emphasised that the sector should increasingly work together - for example to develop common tickets for trains and buses.
The view of the Consumer Agency is that well functioning intermodal transport links are essential to consumers. There must be effective processes for resolving problem situations, with fair compensation systems and a clear responsible party known to consumers.