An urban legend has been making the rounds in Taiwan for at least a couple of decades, and it deals with a Highway Bus (公路公車) that appears on Yangde Road (仰德道) at midnight. Yangde Road takes one from Taipei up to Yangmingshan (陽明山), the mountain that looms over the north of Taipei, and it has been plagued by numerous accidents, including fatalities. It is a scenic road but with lots of twists and turns, both likely factors in causing many of the accidents. This bus is said to be totally dark aboard, though the headlights are reported to be on.
There is more than one version of this tale. Below are two versions:
A young woman had gotten off late from work at some place up on Yangmingshan. To her dismay, she discovered she had apparently missed the last scheduled Highway Bus, number 260, that was heading back to Taipei. This would be at around midnight.
Yet, to her amazement, at midnight, from out of the darkness a bus number 260 was driving to the bus stop where she stood. Overjoyed at her luck, she entered the bus from the rear.
It soon became apparent that there was no one else aboard but the driver and this young woman. The front and rear doors closed, and the bus headed down the mountain towards Taipei.
The trip was largely uneventful, though the driver would stop at each bus stop along the way, allowing the doors to open for a couple of minutes at a time and then closing despite not one other person's climbing aboard.
Finally, the bus arrived at the young woman's intended bus stop. She headed to the front to pay her fare.
She was dumbstruck when the agitated driver turned to her and said in a whisper: "Hey, this bus is not for living passengers like you . . . "
Perplexed, she exited the bus.
Days later, she related the incident to a friend who informed her that the bus she had boarded was one reserved solely for the "good brothers" (好兄弟), the euphemism used for the departed, wandering souls of the dead.
Her friend added that the very much alive bus drivers on that route all probably received "lucky red packs" of money (紅包) to avoid the inherent dangers that can occur with coming into contact with ghosts while driving bus 260.
A young man attended Wenhua University, which is located on Yangmingshan. He got off from work on the campus late one night and hurried to the bus stop to take bus 260 to return to Taipei. He discovered he had just missed the last scheduled bus 260 for the evening, the midnight bus.
He was wondering if he'd be able to flag down a taxi at this time of night when, out of nowhere, another bus 260 appeared at the stop. The headlights of the bus were on, but the side and door lights were all turned off for some reason.
The student was in a hurry to get back to Taipei, so he boarded the bus without worrying too much about the switched-off or faulty lights. Once aboard, he noticed there were also no aisle or ceiling lights on, either. The bus was totally dark inside.
Another strange detail was that the bus would stop at each stop for two minutes even though no passengers had indicated the desire to get off. When passengers did get on, each one bore a totally expressionless face. Not only that but no one seemed to pay for a fare on the way out or to approach the driver to let him know about an intention to disembark.
All this was somewhat unnerving, but the university student tried to take all this in stride. It was difficult to remain aboard this bus, however. He began to feel more and more uneasy with each minute and couldn't wait to bolt off the bus.
Finally, he saw that the bus was approaching his destined bus stop. He went to the front to have his riding pass validated and to let the driver know of his intention to get off the bus.
The bus driver looked at him in shock and asked, "What do you think you're doing aboard this bus?" When the student explained to the driver how he came to be on the bus, the driver replied, "All right, all right, but make sure you never ever again ride on this bus!"
The student promised not to and left the bus at his bus stop.
A couple of days later, he had a conversation with a classmate who told him that that particular bus 260 was only for the restless spirits of the dead.
For other stories about buses and ghosts, see the posts for 8/6/12, 318/18, and 12/16/18.
My friends Tina and Jill, both having grown up in Taiwan, told me that they had long heard of this urban legend. Tina mentioned to me that the bus drivers who drive the dark buses with ghostly passengers are themselves alive, not ghosts, and received bonuses, the "lucky red packets" of money, to enable them to ward off the bad luck that invariably occurs when one comes into contact with the dead. These packets of money are also given by families of the dead to those who live next door to where a death occurred as a matter of courtesy. Tina and Jill also related that the administrators of the Highway Bus Bureau maintain that the buses drive with the door and side lights off to indicate that these buses are "out of service." It is possible that this urban legend has its origin when a driver driving an out-of-service bus scheduled for maintenance in Taipei saw a young woman at the bus stop near Wenhua University and felt sorry for her, knowing that she had definitely missed the last bus for the evening and that she would be very unlikely to get a taxi that late at night. So, disobeying instructions from his supervisor, he picked her up and allowed her to ride the strangely dark and totally empty bus back to Taipei. She doubtlessly related her story to friends, who then spread the story, and the story picked up exciting details along the way.
Motifs: E272, "Road-ghosts"; E581.4, "Ghost rides bus."