Ghost bus wreaks havoc in Leith! One minute it was there, the next it had just vanished – Susan Morrison

Consternation at the Great Junction Street bus stop. A woman told me that the Number 21 had just disappeared, despite showing up on her smartphone’s super-clever bus tracking app. One minute it said “due” and the next, gone.

A Number 21 bus due at the Great Junction Street stop in Leith turned out to be a ghostly apparition (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A Number 21 bus due at the Great Junction Street stop in Leith turned out to be a ghostly apparition (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A young man helpfully explained that this was a phenomenon known as a “ghost bus”. It seems that the devilishly complex computer wizardry behind the app actually thinks the bus is there, and moving about, but in fact, it isn’t. It’s just running its programme in a determined sort of a manner, ignoring the facts, just as Liz Truss went about her short, sad premiership.

I’d never heard this term, and I still suspect this lad was at it, but it made me realise that there are few ghost stories that feature buses. I can think of a whole slew of ghost trains, phantom cars and even a terrifying tale about a taxi being driven by a demon. Mind you, I’ve been in some London taxis, and believe me, I’m quite prepared to believe that Satan had chucked in burning sinners for terrorising passengers.

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Buses, though, don’t seem to have the same pull on the supernatural imagination. There might be a story about a phantom holiday coach trundling through the Highlands endlessly ferrying trapped souls from one tartan tat outlet shop to another, but public transport buses don’t seem to feature highly in terrifying tales of the unknown. I’ve never read of a ghostly bus crewed by a demonic conductor, forever screaming “fares please” and “room upstairs for one more…”

Well, until now. Of course, when I discovered that Edinburgh has spectral services, I wasn’t particularly surprised.

Here in Leith, we’re getting used to buses being sighted, approaching and then suddenly swinging away along an unexpected route. They vanish into the night. The 12 went missing some time ago. The 35 went up town and didn’t come back. The 22 is still mourned.

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Eerily enough, the 21 reappeared the next day like nothing had happened. Where did it go? Who got onboard? Dunno about you, but that makes me a bit uneasy…