Getting lost in the car is so commonplace that it is just considered a part of driving. But when boarding the Tube, a train or a bus, the assumption is that the same well-known route will be taken every time.
In fact, the occasions when this does not happen are so rare that this is a safe assumption to make – in almost all cases.
But not quite in all. And the stories of when a London bus has accidentally gone off route are truly wild – there are heartwarming anecdotes, amusing ones and slightly more stressful incidents.
All were shared on a Reddit thread entitled ‘If a bus went off route accidentally, what would happen?’
One passenger jumped in with an uplifting tale, writing: “I was once on a bus that followed a roadworks diversion and completely lost its route.
“After driving around baffled for about 20 minutes, the driver decided that if bus driving was impossible, he would instead attempt to impersonate a taxi driver… and drove each and every one of us pretty much to our own front doors, one by one.
“It was one of the greatest afternoons of my life and I sincerely hope he didn’t get in trouble.
“My housemate was proper goggle-eyed as I slipped off the back of a red double decker directly onto the pavement outside our front room.”
A Reddit user responded: “Omg I’m actually laughing so much at this!! Can just imagine my neighbour’s faces if I hopped off my bus in our little square.”
To which the original storyteller replied: “It was such a good day!
“We didn’t really believe he would do it until he’d dropped the first couple of passengers off.
“After that it was a real party atmosphere. I was sad to see my new bus buddies go!
(I doubt this could happen now due to sattelite tracking and heightened security around public transport and terrorism, plus the driver could just use his phone to get back on the route after the diversion…)
“But this was the mid 90s, and things were simpler then… so we rode around on that Routemaster ALL AFTERNOON.”
Another person also chimed in: “Neighbours must have thought Harry Potter is bl**dy real!”
This is most likely a reference to the Knight Bus, a purple triple-decker that offered emergency transportation to stranded individuals of the wizarding community. Harry Potter himself rode on the vehicle in the Prisoner of Azkaban film – and was dropped off right outside his desired location, the Leaky Cauldron, just like this Reddit storyteller was dropped off right outside their home.
Someone else then felt compelled to tell their own, slightly more anxiety-inducing, anecdote, writing: “Was on a route in N London when police told our bus there was a big accident so we were being diverted onto the North Circular.
“Driver yelled for help as it was her third day and she knew the routes but not the surrounding areas.
“Some pensioners started being helpful in an unhelpful way, going ooh, you could turn at that corner where the X used to be…
“I’d recently moved to London so pulled out my AtoZ (this was pre-satnavs) and a bloke with clue helped me plan a route.
“Got to where we wanted to turn off the North Circular, only there was a no right turn sign at the lights. We took a vote on whether the driver should turn anyway. She turned. Let some people off in various places on request, but mostly got to Golders Green without incident.
“Telling complainers ‘the police had shut your road, it’s not the drivers fault’ worked. Driver didn’t get into any trouble though was advised not to make an illegal right turn again.”
A different user got involved in the conversation to tell an amusing family tale, posting: “My Dad had always wanted to be a bus driver because of a fascination with the old films of the training that involved throwing an old Route Master around a skid pan.
“So after doing a full 5-year apprenticeship in hydraulic engineering followed by two years as an engineering officer in the Merchant Navy, he decides to become a bus driver. Does the training, with the skid pan training as the high-light and is let loose on South London streets.
“And realises, within a few weeks, he hates it. Manages to get himself the sack by deciding to take a ‘short-cut’, when faced with road-works, which draws the ire of passengers, his conductor and Inspector alike, and parts company with London Transport PDQ.”
Another person explained their Christmas Eve “ordeal”, posting: “Happened to me on xmas eve afternoon, on the Piccadilly replacement bus.
“Driver literally did not know where he was going, passengers repeatedly tried to give him directions and he managed to go the wrong way twice.
“Ended up skipping a whole section with 2 stops (including mine), and at that point I managed to get off the bus and find another one to get home.
“A 35 min trip became a 1.5 hour ordeal [sad face emoji].”
One more Reddit user described more of a hiccup than an ordeal, writing: “The only time it’s happened to me, all the passengers immediately began shouting in alarm at the driver who stopped the bus and reversed the hundred yards or so to the correct junction.
“We were more amused than inconvenienced.”
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A bus driver then actually contributed to the chitchat, explaining: “Bus driver here. It happens quite a lot.
“I train new drivers and I tell them if they miss a turn to NEVER reverse back. It’s unsafe.
“The best thing to do is keep going until you get to an island or you can box back on route. Even better drive in such a way so you don’t miss turns.
“If a driver accidentally misses a turn they won’t get into trouble. However, if they reverse back and hit something, they will get f***ed.”
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