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The tales of haunted New Orleans
bus stops, buggies, cabs and buses can take
the average tourist on an unplanned adventure
into the paranormal side of Haunted New Orleans!
A. Pustanio photos by Hershel Meyers
New Orleans has some of the most colorful
public transportation in all of America. From
our striking antique trolley cars (STREETCARS
AS LOCALS CALL THEM) , and the new cars
now chugging along Canal Street, to the colorfully
embossed artwork of the city buses, you know
you're in New Orleans when you take a ride
on one of these moving works of art.
But it was only a few decades ago when New
Orleans couldn't boast too much about their
buses being "works of art": the
old silver monoliths were a hallmark of NOPSI
(New Orleans Public Service, Inc.) in the
"good old days." And with interesting
destinations like CEMETARIES and
END OF LINE displayed in their route
boxes, sometimes there was a feeling that
"this bus is going somewhere I don't
want to go!"
Still, New Orleanians have fond memories of
first bus rides and trolley rides. Yet there
are some among us, locals and tourists alike,
who insist that there are still "buses
to nowhere" out there to this day!
Reports come in every now and then of amazing
encounters with retired NOPSI buses, like
Silver Stream trailers still lumbering the
oak lined routes and pockmarked streets in
the older areas of the city.
Most troubling, perhaps, are the reports of
drivers who have experienced "near miss"
encounters with these retired transportation
giants of yesteryear. One local man in the
Mid-City area was injured when his car crashed
in the middle of the night at a major intersection
along the traditional Mid-City bus routes.
He had collided with a signal light transformer
box; luckily no other vehicles were involved.
When police arrived at the scene, the man
insisted that at the point of hte accident
a ghostly bus had come barreling along into
the intersection, all its lights blazing and
apparently empty. Most disturbing, there seemed
to have been "NO ONE AT THE WHEEL!"
A witness who heard but did not see the accident
reported to police that he heard the victim's
car approaching at a normal pace and that
this was suddenly overwhelmed by the sound
of a bus engine, wide open, accelerating at
a breakneck speed, apparently toward the intersection.
The driver was given the usual sobriety tests
but neither alcohol nor drugs were detected;
the man had simply been on his way home from
a late shift when he was overtaken by the
phantom NOPSI bus.
Another report, entirely separate from the
one reported above, was an emergency call
regarding an apparent hit and run that was
again heard, but not seen. A local resident,
awakened by the sound of a car crash, went
to his front window to see a car crashed at
the nearby intersection. After summoning the
authorities, the man put on his robe and went
to the site of the accident to lend assistance
only to be asked repeatedly by the injured
driver, "Did you see that bus??"
This might seem completely impossible, but
there are other reports from pedestrians in
the same area of New Orleans, veterans of
the public transportation system, who insist
that there is such a thing as a phantom bus
in the area. Two independent sources report
that they inadvertantly almost got aboard!
The stories from both are similar: they each
approached their regular bus stop in the early
morning hours to see an old fashioned NOPSI
bus idling at the stop, empty and unattended,
all its lights on. One of the sources stated
that it was a cold night and he thought that
this might be a new all-night service and
briefly considered running to board it. Something
stopped him, however, and in a moment, to
his complete amazement the bus, without a
driver or any living person onboard, moved
away from the stop and accelerated into the
dim New Orleans dawn. The second source recounted
an almost exact story with the singular exception
that he never considered boarding the bus.
"It just looked bad," he said. "It
felt like it came from somewhere else, from
hell, maybe -- but I never wanted to get on
There are also stories of phantom buses appearing
on city side streets that do not and never
have had public bus service. Imagine the surprise
of locals who come out for their morning paper
to see and old NOPSI bus idling at the curb
near their house, empty ... except perhaps
for a phantom driver that no one sees. Imagine
their amazement when the old bus pulls away
of its own volition, still maintaining some
tight schedule in the other world.
It's a truism in almost any major American
city that those people who regularly use public
transportation are some of the bravest souls
among us. To some of us, comfortable in our
cars, the idea of waiting for a bus is foreign,
an unknown. Others among us, some locals and
tourists, think that riding public transportation
is an occasional sentimental or even romantic
experience. To most, however, waiting on the
caprice of public transport is a necessity.
For these people, waiting in the long sunlight
of a summer evening might not be so bad, except
for the occasional thunderstorm. But in the
winter months, with its dusky gloaming shadows,
or its starless dawn hours, the wait can be
a little more unsettling.
Add to this the possibility that you might
be waiting at one of New Orleans' many haunted
bus stops and the recipe for terror is almost
complete. An encounter with the paranormal
is a very real possibility...
There are many bus stops around the old city
lines that have their random hauntings. The
ghost of an elderly lady is seen at the northboung
Canal Street stop, near the intersection with
Broad Street. No matter what the weather,
the lady appears in a ratty tweed coat wearing
a silk scarf on her head, leaning on a cane
and carrying a paper shopping bag. When the
bus pulls up and the riders go to get on,
suddenly the old lady is nowhere to be seen.
One man reported that he even stepped aside
to allow the old lady, whom he thought was
behind him, to board. To his puzzlement the
lady was nowhere to be seen.
Another stop in the Uptown area is haunted
by a ghostly couple. Dressed in their Sunday
best, as if boarding the bus for church or
a day spent shopping on Canal Street, they
are seen silently standing and waiting. When
the bus arrives they, too, disappear without
But perhaps the most unsettling experience
is at an infamous bus stop in the Lakeview
area of New Orleans. The stop and the area
were made infamous many years ago when a college
student, waiting one evening at the stop for
her regular ride home, was attacked and dragged
away from the stop. In the shadow of nearby
bushes she was raped and strangled to death.
Her body was not found until the next morning.
A man approaching the bus stop saw a purse
and a bag of spilled oranges laying near the
bushes; when he moved closer he saw a clutched
hand among the branches. Immediately, the
police were called.
The crime made headlines in the city and for
many months there was a sharp decline in the
amount of riders on all New Orleans bus routes.
Eventually, as with all horrific crimes, the
memory was all that remained. Or was it .....
To this day there are reports from hapless
riders at this bus stop who recount being
shocked by a sudden piercing scream and the
sounds of heavy breathing and struggling when
no one is nearby. Women waiting at this stop
either alone or in groups of twos or threes
report an overwhelming sense of sadness, as
if the stain of the horrible crime still permeates
the environment. It is no surprise that young
women are most affected, but there are reports
from men who have experienced such a sense
of anger and malice at this stop that they
have stated they are perfectly willing to
walk to the next stop, nearly a mile down
the road, to wait for the same bus.
Some who have encountered the paranormal at
this infamous stop have taken to carrying
oranges with them. It seems that if an orange
is left, as if in offering to the spirit,
the atmosphere is immediately less charged
and the feeling of melancholy dissipates.
An interesting footnote to this story is the
report from several drivers along this route
who have spotted a lone young woman waiting
at the stop as they are approaching it; however,
when the bus draws near and the driver opens
the doors, there is no one at the stop ....
New Orleans' famous streetcars are not immune
to haunting. Several reports have come to
us from streetcar conductors concerning ghostly
passengers who never reach their stop. Conductors
on the Uptown line have told of seeing the
apparently solid form of a young female college
student riding silent and alone in the middle
of the car. Often it seems that the young
woman has debarked at one of the many Uptown
stops, when suddenly, she is seen in the same
seat again, further down the line.
One interesting haunt occurs on the Carrolton
Avenue run, and this time its a ghostly tourist
couple! They are seen, as vivid as any living
passenger, heads together looking at guidebooks
and maps, when suddenly, according to one
conductor, they disappear into thin air! Could
it be that the couple had such a good time
visiting Haunted New Orleans that the memory
Taxis have their share of bad press in every
city across America. New Orleans is blessed
with a platoon of knowledgeable and friendly
taxi drivers who are ever ready to assist
locals as well as tourists as they navigate
this great old city. But a sad fact of life
for the city cabbie of America is the possibility
that the next fare is the last, and that crime
has just gotten into the back seat.
Perhaps this is the basis of the most reported
taxi cab haunting ... The old, maroon, late-model
Lincoln town car with the noxiously green
TAXI light on top is reported to wait, idling
near the corner of Exchange Alley and Decatur
Street, for unsuspecting fares. Reports have
come to Haunted New Orleans Tours that passengers
who take this cab might never be seen again.
The driver is seen only as a shadow against
the darkness of the French Quarter dusk; the
engine idles lowly. Perhaps it is the unknown
driver, or maybe the pearl blackness of the
tinted cab windows, but this taxi reportedly
gets few fares. Whether its passengers reach
the destination intended, or one that has
been pre-determined for them in some far reaches
of the unseen world, no one has yet been able
to report. But if you're in the Quarter late
one night, and the only taxi you see idling
nearby sounds like this one, you might want
to choose walking instead ...