The Bus to Nowhere is now one of my favorite urban legends.
I just learned about the Bus to Nowhere – which I shall call the “Bus” – a few years ago. This story takes place in Philadelphia.
Please note that Episode #74 of the podcast Twisted Philly tackles the Bus. The host, Deana Marie, identified herself as a lifelong Philly-area native with a decades-long fear of actually seeing the Bus. So, if you want a more thorough explanation, you should listen to her podcast.
Here’s how I understand the Bus legend, based on this podcast, several other websites, and several books:
The Bus belongs to SEPTA. SEPTA stands for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. So, a SEPTA bus is the Philly equivalent of our PAT buses in Pittsburgh.
The Bus has no destination posted on any of its reader boards. In some versions of this story, the Bus lists no route number whatsoever. In other versions, this Bus identifies as Route 0. (Route 0 is not a real SEPTA route.)
It stops at no designated bus stops. It has no schedule.
You cannot just wait at a specific intersection at a specific time in hopes of catching the Bus.
The Bus shows up for people who are at the absolute lowest points in their lives.
This Bus doesn’t actually completely stop for anyone. The Bus just slows down, I guess? (Honestly, this sounds like some “real” public buses that I rode.)
If I were standing in Philadelphia proper and I were at rock bottom in my life, the Bus may or may not show up for me. If the Bus appears, and I decide to ride it, then I need to haul ass in order to actually get onto the Bus.
In other words, passengers on the Bus invest actual effort into boarding the bus.
The Bus has no actual destination. It just goes in a loop or something. Each passenger debarks when he or she is mentally ready to debark.
Passengers who rode the Bus and then left it have no clear memory of their time spent on the bus.
The Bus urban legend reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem Acquainted with the Night.
Today I told my husband about the Bus. He responded that this was probably based on a real-life SEPTA bus that travelled around Philadelphia on a training route. Thus, the bus had no posted route and it stopped at none of the bus stops.
Perhaps it slowed down and a SEPTA employee jumped aboard. Who knows?
Have you ever seen the Bus to Nowhere? Have you ever ridden on the Bus to Nowhere? Let me know in the comments!
Postscript, 11/12/18: Please note that the host of “Twisted Philly” swears in some of her podcast episodes. She actually cleaned up her language a bit after listeners complained about this in her iTunes reviews. I don’t remember how often she cussed in this particular episode. However, I wanted to warn you in case you intended to listen to this around kids. If you want to listen to just the “Bus to Nowhere” story on this podcast episode, then skip to minute 19:00.