Skip to content Skip to footer

You are unhappy about a bus service in Scotland

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’re unhappy about the quality of a bus service or something that happened on a bus journey you may want to make a complaint. How you complain will depend on where you made your bus journey and whether the bus was a public scheduled service or a private hire. This page explains how to go about making a complaint.

Complaining about a public scheduled bus service

You may want to complain about things like:

  • delays or cancellations to a bus service
  • dangerous driving by a bus driver
  • unacceptable staff behaviour
  • overcharging
  • the level of service in your area.

Who should you complain to

If you have a complaint about a public bus service you should complain directly to the bus company. The name and address of the bus company must be displayed on the outside of the bus and will usually be displayed inside as well.

There are regulations that cover bus travel but most bus companies have passenger charters or codes of practice. The passenger charter or code of practice will explain how the company deals with complaints.

Information to include in your complaint

You should give as much information as possible. Include:

  • the date and time of your journey
  • the number, route and direction of the bus you travelled on
  • if possible, the registration number of the bus
  • if possible, the running number of the bus you were travelling on - this is usually on the front windscreen or on the side of the bus.

Make sure you include your ticket with your complaint. It's best to send a copy and keep the original. If originals are requested, make sure you keep a copy. If you are complaining by e-mail, documents can be scanned. Always keep a copy of your complaint.

How will your complaint be dealt with

Depending on the kind of complaint you've made, you might get:

  • an apology
  • an explanation
  • compensation.

If your complaint is about a member of staff, the bus company will often not be able to tell you exactly what has happened. Rules about confidentiality mean the company will not tell you what action they have taken against an individual member of staff. However, the company should be able to tell you that some action has been taken.

Complaining to Bus Users Scotland

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint to the bus company you can get in touch with Bus Users Scotland who can negotiate on your behalf with the bus company. It works with Scottish Government, local transport authorities and bus companies to maintain and improve standards for bus passengers. It monitors existing public bus services, how complaints are handled and generally tries to improve services. If you want to make a complaint you can contact them by email on their website at www.transport.gov.scot.

Complaining to Bus Appeals Body Scotland (BABS)

If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint after Bus Users Scotland has negotiated on your behalf with the bus company you can ask the Bus Appeals Body Scotland to review your case. It will look at all the evidence again then issue a decision. It does not have statutory powers but a bus company is likely to abide by its decision. You can get in touch with the Bus Appeals Body Scotland at www.busappealsbody.co.uk.

General complaints about levels of service or routes or conditions of the vehicles

You may want to make a general complaint about bus services as well as specific problems with routes - for example, if you think there aren’t enough buses in your area or routes have been changed without warning. These kind of general complaints should be made to your local council in the first instance then to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland who has to approve all routes and timetables.

Complaining to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland

You can take your complaint about levels of service, routes or conditions of vehicles, to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland. The Traffic Commissioner is responsible for the registration of local bus services. S/he can fine bus companies that fail to run services on time or who do not comply with health and safety regulations.

Find out more information about the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland and how to complain on the Department for Transport website at www.gov.uk.

Complaining about private coach or bus hire

All coach services in Britain are privately operated. If you have a complaint, you should contact the coach or bus company in the first instance. The terms and conditions of the coach hire is a legal contract. It should provide details about:

  • what you have to pay if you cancel the coach. You are likely to incur charges
  • what the company insurance covers
  • what happens if your luggage is lost
  • times of departure and general times for the journey.

If you aren't happy with the response from the company you can complain to the Bus Users organisation at www.bususers.org.

If your complaint is about safety, complain directly to the Traffic Commissioner for the area in which the company is based.

Find out more information about the Traffic Commissioners across the UK and how to complain on the Department for Transport website at www.gov.uk.

Complaining to trading standards

If you feel that the private coach or bus company is providing a poor service you can get in touch with trading standards in the local authority in the area where the company operates.

Complaints about accidents

If a bus service is involved in an accident and you are injured you should seek legal advice about the next step to take. What step you take may depend on the type of injury you have suffered. Some companies may automatically deal with the outcome of an accident and offer compensation.

You may decide to take legal action for personal injuries.

More about personal injuries

Did this advice help?