(Image: Brandon Bartoszek; abandoned bus stations and derelict coach depots)
For places that are jumping off points for millions of adventures, bus stations and depots have an unfortunate habit for being somewhat drab. Although the excitement of being somewhere where hundreds of thousands of lives intersect and go careening off in new directions never loses its lustre, actually looking at a bus station can be somewhat less appealing.
Unless, that is, the depot in question has been abandoned. Left to crumble away, no longer accepting new passengers or sparking new adventures, a forgotten transport hub can be all kinds of haunting. Lifeless temples to commuting, they today clutter the highways and byways of world, each one a monument to millions of forgotten journeys. Here are nine abandoned bus stations, depots and coach terminals where the last service left long ago.
Abandoned Greyhound Terminal in Evansville, Indiana
(Images: Brandon Bartoszek)
The abandoned bus terminal of Evansville, Indiana, was once something of a minor Art Deco masterpiece. A brightly-painted brick structure, the station’s front and signage proudly displayed the Greyhound name in type that evoked the spirit of the Jazz Age. Even when it was built, this was slightly anachronistic. The Evansville terminal went up in 1939, at a time when the industry and speed that characterised the 1920s had already given way to Depression, decay, and looming war.
(Image: Brandon Bartoszek)
Left to the city after it became derelict, the disused Evansville terminal was for a long time simply shut-off and empty. Happily, though, it’s fortunes have since turned round. In 2016, the BRU Burger Group bought and renovated the old building into a new restaurant. As part of their work, they restored the front to something approaching its former glory. Its days as a leaping off point for the vast and groaning continent may long be gone, but the abandoned Evansville Greyhound bus station still at least looks the part.
Disused Worswick Street Bus Station, Newcastle, UK
(Images: Stephen Veitch; Google Street View)
It seems unlikely anyone would ever look at the old Worswick Street bus station in Newcastle and decide to renovate it into a restaurant. Once one of the main bus terminals operating in the north east, Worswick Street is today a gloomy, peeling wreck. Windows are boarded up. The roof is grimy and seemingly about to collapse. Add in a rather utilitarian frontage, and it’s tempting to think that no-one could ever love this ruined bus station.
Yet there is history to be seen here, too. Worswick Street was once the main hub linking places like Gateshead and County Durham. Innumerable buses must have passed through its gates in the heyday of British bus travel. People on their way to work, on their way to important interviews, going on dates, meeting loved ones, half-forgotten friends; can traces of all these lives can still be sensed in the hulk of this old building? It may be unlovely to look at, but Worswick Street is a forgotten bus station where hundreds of thousands of people’s lives once turned on a dime.
Derelict Pripyat Bus Station, Ukraine
If most disused bus stations bring to mind fleets of faceless travellers and the steady tramp of boots, Pripyat bus station in Ukraine summons images of thousands fleeing in sheer terror. It was a mere 20 km up the road where, in 1986, the Chernobyl reactor exploded, in what remains the worst nuclear accident in history. Thirty-one died in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, with vast areas doused with radiation. Years later, we’re still not sure how of the exact number of dead.
With all this in mind, photos of Pripyat’s abandoned bus station take on an indefinable, haunting quality. Each rusted sign and crack in the pavement speaks of unknowable suffering. Each overgrown lot reminds us that humans can most likely never come back here.
Abandoned Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, USA
For a short while, the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco was the jumping off point for the entire future. When it was opened, thousands crowded its great hall and long corridors, hoping to experience the coming revolution in transport. Its vast shelter, imposing edifice and miles of endless space must’ve seemed almost like something from a Sci-Fi film to visitors in 1939. Whilst its reality was more prosaic, it still managed to hold a special place in locals’ hearts, even when it started to fall apart.
Perhaps one reason for the building’s grandness was its original usage. The Transbay Terminal was originally designed as a place for trains, a mode of transport still suffused with more romance than bus travel. Converted to a bus terminal in 1959, it continued operation right the way up until 2010, when a new terminal was constructed nearby. Sadly since demolished, all that now remains of this one-time transport palace is the pictures you see above; documenting forever the dying days of a West Coast institution.
Abandoned Bus Depot at Gdynia Poland (Demolished)
(Images: Sylwester Czopek)
Situated on the chill shores of the Baltic, Gdynia in Poland is the more invisible sibling to popular holiday spots Gdansk and Sopot. A regimented world of modernist buildings, it seems clean, safe, and perhaps even a little dull. But go digging beneath the surface, and you’ll find the occasional splash of character, such as this abandoned bus depot. Now an atmospheric, graffitied ruin, it stands as a stark counterpoint to Gdynia’s clean image.
For a city with a population of only 250,000, the derelict bus station is surprisingly large. As these eerie photos show, its cavernous interior seems to go on forever. There are endless bays where buses once sat idling, waiting to take passengers to all corners of the nation. There are torn up waiting rooms, broken receptions areas, and even grimy old toilets that bring to mind ‘that’ scene from the first Trainspotting. The reasons for the bus depot’s abandonment are vague, though it’s now been demolished and replaced by a sleak modern office building.
Ilfracombe Bus Station, UK
Nobody does truly abandoned bus stations quite like the British. While other nations may let their disused terminals gather dust, residents of the UK make theirs look like the settings for a post-apocalyptic movie. Just check out the photos above. Once a bus station serving the small North Devon coastal town of Ilfracombe, it now looks like nothing more than a forbidding shed. Surrounded by chain link fence, overgrown by weeds, it seems less neglected than actively vandalised.
Ilfracombe bus station has now been abandoned for years, likely shuttered after interest in holidaying in UK coastal towns declined; a fate shared by destinations all across the Southwest (indeed, all across Britain). Add in a lacklustre transport infrastructure funding in Devon and Cornwall, and it’s perhaps no surprise this bus station ended up how it did.
Haifa Bat Galim Central Bus Station, Israel
(Images: David King)
A towering hymn to the possibilities of concrete and brutalist design, the Haifa Bat Galim Central Bus Station was built in the early 1970s, and boy does it look it. A low-lying hanger topped off by a seemingly gravity-defying concrete block, the Central Bus Station seems to have been beamed in from a brutalist dystopia. Perhaps this is no surprise. Constructed at a time when ‘intentionally ugly’ was very much in vogue (witness Preston Bus Station in the UK), the Bat Galim Central Bus Station was never going to be pleasing on the eye.
But what counts against something in life can often enhance its appeal in death. Seen in its abandoned state, the old station today looks almost unearthly. Dust-coated concrete sweeps away as far as the eye can see, all watched over by that grim and empty tower.
(Image: Egged History Archive; the bus station in more active days, circa 1997)
Beneath the blistering heat of the Israeli sun, the very walls seem to crack and warp. Empty since 2003, the bus station now looks like a relic from a strange and distant time.
Abandoned Bus Depot in Hong Kong
(Images: Egg Cheung)
Somewhere, in the densely built-up high rise world of Hong Kong, lies the ruins of this impressively broken down bus depot. Forged from concrete, left to turn to dust, the building today looks like the aftermath of somewhere hit with an atomic bomb. Windows have been blown out. Wreckage litters the floors. Vegetation grows in the parking lots. So damaged and decayed is it that it’s tempting to think these images were taken after the world had ended.
Amid all this decay, the skyscrapers overlooking the abandoned bus station offer a surreal little counterpoint. For those who work and live in these buildings, looking down on such a totally ruined depot must be an almost unnerving experience. So close to an icon of urban decay, it would be easy to imagine a future where everything lay in ruins, and the city around you was simply no more.
Abandoned Greyhound Station in Windsor, Ontario, Canada
It’s sadly hard to see in these pictures, but the old Greyhound station in Windsor, Ontario, once had a front that was almost, well, we hesitate to say ‘stylish’, but certainly not-unpleasing to the eye. Curved, slick, and with modernist-style porthole windows reminiscent of 1930s Central European architecture, it added a little bit of verve to the area. Yet it also masked a station that was destined to become fatally flawed. By the turn of the century, the station’s platforms were simply too few to serve all the buses that needed to pass through.
As a result, plans were underway to shut the place almost before the millennium had turned. By 2007, it had been shuttered in favour of a newer, more modern terminal across the downtown area. While it might be a stretch to say the old one was missed, there is no denying the memories it held for a certain generation of traveller. Small and slightly-poky it may have been, but for some this abandoned bus station was once the most important terminal in Canada.