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Bus Messages Called Offensive When Read Backwards

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Port Authority is looking into bus slogans that some are calling offensive.

Officials say they've recently received complaints that one of its slogans, "Ziggin Zaggin," is offensive when read backwards, seeming to spell out a racial slur.

Jim Ritchie with the Port Authority says they will remove the messages from buses.

"... due to recent complaints about how this message appears when read backward, we have decided to remove the message from our vehicles," he said. "This will take us several days to properly remove. We apologize to anyone who may have been offended."

A few days ago, a driver complained after seeing the slogan on a bus in her rearview mirror. She says it spells out a racial slur when read backwards.

"In terms of the message being offensive it's not a surprise at all. It's a very serious and hurtful and offensive message. We felt the best thing to do was simply take it off," Port Authority Spokesperson Jim Ritchie said.

The Port Authority says this slogan has been wrapped around nine buses since 2003. This is the first time anyone has ever complained about it. It was part of a marketing campaign that comprised of six different slogans like "Rockin' Rollin'" and "Movin' Groovin'."

Some folks say the stickers need to be taken off immediately, while others say they don't see a problem with it.

"It may be an overreaction, but I can see where some people would be offended," Cynthia Sharkey, of Moon Township, said.

"I don't think it's really a racial slur or anything," Benjamin Dixon, of Homewood, said.

"Who really thinks about looking at it backwards? It's 'Ziggin' and Zaggin'.' A vehicle zigs and zags through the city to pick somebody up. It's a bus," Antwon Manson of the Hill District said.

However, the Port Authority says it's coming off of the buses in the next few weeks. It doesn't anticipate the removal process costing a lot of money.

"Our employees can do it in house. Our employees can do that and peel it off," Ritchie said.

But, a couple of windows might have to be replaced if the signage leaves a mark when it's peeled off. The Port Authority might take a look at some other options as well.

"We might have to put some sort of vinyl covering on it to make sure the mark is completely covered," Ritchie said.

Since it's just nine buses out of 700 in the entire fleet that have this slogan, the Port Authority doesn't anticipate a disruption in service.

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