A passenger (also abbreviated as pax) is a person who travels in a vehicle but bears little or no responsibility for the tasks required for that vehicle to arrive at its destination or otherwise operate the vehicle.
Passengers are people who ride on buses, passenger trains, airliners, ships, ferryboats, and other methods of transportation. Historically, the concept of the passenger has existed for as long as man has been able to create means of transportation capable of carrying more people than were needed to operate the vessel.
Crew members (if any), as well as the driver or pilot of the vehicle, are usually not considered to be passengers. For example, a flight attendant on an airline would not be considered a "passenger" while on duty, but an employee riding in a company car being driven by another person would be considered a passenger, even if the car was being driven on company business.
In railway parlance, 'passenger', as well as being the end user of a service, is also a categorisation of the type of rolling stock used. In the British case, there are several categories of passenger train. These categories include:
- 'Express passenger', which constitutes long distance and high speed railway travel between major locations such as ports and cities.
- 'Semi-fast express passenger', a type of service that is high speed, though stops at selected destinations of high population density en route.
- 'Local passenger', the lowest category of British passenger train, which provides a service that stops at all stations between major destinations, for the benefit of local populations.
In most jurisdictions, laws have been enacted that dictate the legal obligations of the owner of a vehicle or vessel, or of the driver or pilot of the same, towards the passengers. With respect to passengers riding in cars and vans, the driver may owe a duty of care to passengers, particularly where the passenger's presence in the vehicle can be seen to "confer some benefit on the driver other than the benefit of his or her company or the mere sharing of expenses". In other situations, however, guest statutes may limit the ability of passengers to sue the driver of the vehicle over an accident. Many places require cars to be outfitted with measures specifically for the protection of passengers, such as passenger-side air bags. With respect to passengers on commercial vehicles or vessels, both national laws and international treaties require that the carrier act with a certain standard of care. The number of passengers that a vehicle or vessel may legally carry is defined as its seating capacity.