Bus drivers have been ticked off for calling female passengers ‘babe’.

A warning on a bulletin board for Brighton and Hove Buses told drivers that some customers might also take offence if they were called ‘love’ or ‘darling’.

The rap on the knuckles came after a complaint from an irate woman who said the word babe was “demeaning”.

One bus driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s just the height of political correctness. The drivers are the best judge of how to speak to customers.

“People in Brighton don’t want their bus drivers to be robots. The company are just covering their own backs.

“But you’ll always get some people that just want to complain about everything.”

Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company managing director Roger French said: “We ask our staff to be friendly but professional, but a lady complained to us that she thought the language used by one driver was demeaning to her.

“But I don’t think incidents like this are very common. We try and take a lot of customer feedback so we thought we’d pass this on. The drivers will understand and take it in good spirit."

But Mr French said the warning did not signal the end of the friendly bus driver.

“We’ll be even friendlier because our drivers won’t be saying anything that could cause offence.

“Being personable and good-humoured is a big part of working on the buses.”

The message on the bulletin board headed ‘Speaking to Customers’ said: “Please can drivers be aware that some of our customers may take offence at having terms such as ‘love’, ‘darling’ and ‘babe’ directed towards them.

“This can be seen by some as being a sexist comment, as a recent complaint has highlighted.”

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