Ottawa man lobbies for bilingual bus drivers

Ottawa bus drivers might greet riders with a "hello," but a "bonjour" is rare, and that's not fair, says one francophone passenger.

Ottawa bus drivers might greet riders with a "hello," but a "bonjour" is rare, and that's not fair, says one francophone passenger.

Michel Thibodeau has launched an official complaint against OC Transpo, the city's public transit company,demanding that itenforce its policy of treating francophones and anglophones equally.

That entails greeting passengers, calling out stops and making announcements in both languages, he said.

"So that francophones don't feel left out," he added.

The company should ensure new driversare bilingual and current drivers should get language training so they can at least greet passengers in French, he said.

The City of Ottawa's French services department is currently looking into the complaint. Thibodeau said he expects to hear from them next week.

Bilingual drivers would be ideal, said OC Transpo head Alain Mercier,and the company is making an effort to offer more services in both languages.

"It certainly is a challenge to work towards bilingualism with the 2,000 people in our organization," he said.

And while the people hired by the company aren't guaranteed to be bilingual, the vehicles they use will be.

All new buses will be soon be equipped with a system that automatically calls out major stops in both French and English, Mercier said.