It is no secret that New Orleans is known for being the most haunted city in the country. According to NOLA.com, around 17 million people came to visit the city in 2017 alone, and there is no doubt in my mind that with those 17 million people, there were also more than a few ghost tours looking to cash in on the popular tourist destination. Ghosts come with the territory, but so do their spooky antics which includes ghosts who ride in taxis. I am unfortunately not on speaking terms with any ghosts at the moment, but I would assume that it’s easier to get a taxi than an Uber when you are dead. The stories go like this: taxi drivers will pick up passengers in the late hours of the night, only for them to vanish without opening the door, and more importantly, without paying the fare (Future clickbait headline: Are ghosts ruining the taxi cab industry?).
New Orleans has no shortage of haunted destinations, ranging from hotels to abandoned wax museums, but much of the city’s ghost culture results from how old the city is and what stood on the land before it. Many believe that NOLA’s history of voodoo doesn’t help to keep the spirits away, but instead invites them, so ghosts are more likely to come back and haunt their former Crescent City hangouts.
Many individuals believe that the ghosts are victims of large disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, and gravitate towards taxis without understanding that they are dead. The short conversations they have with the drivers are their first relizations of their deaths, and gives them what they need to move into the afterlife.
Strangely enough, after Japan was struck by a tsunami in 2011, similar occurrences of ghosts riding in taxis began to be reported. A student at Tohoku Gakuin University, Yuka Kudo, interviewed 100 taxi drivers for her graduation thesis and found that 7 different drivers shared similar experiences of picking up spirits after the disaster. One driver reported that a woman got into his taxi before requesting to go to an area that had been devastated by the tsunami, making it impossible to drop her off there. When the driver informed her of this, the woman allegedly replied, “Have I died?” before suddenly vanishing from the taxi. Another driver provided paperwork to back up that there had been an unpaid fare the night of his experience, alleging that the ghost had somehow exited the vehicle before being forced to pay.
Although there is no shortage of ghost stories in New Orleans, there is very little reporting on this phenomenon. There are theories that this is simply the result of the eyes playing tricks on the drivers in the middle of the night or perhaps their lack of sleep causing them to remember events that didn’t happen. Apparently, ghosts are unable to cross bodies of water, meaning that a taxi would be their only form of transportation other than walking or maybe riding a bike (can anyone vouch for a bike-riding ghost?). A nice ferry ride down the mighty Mississippi is out of the question. Maybe it’s a case of shared mania, like those people who danced until they died in 1500’s France. We also must consider, however, that ghosts just have places to go and don’t need us questioning them. We may never know, but if you ever get into a cab with someone who looks suspiciously translucent, let me know. That would be pretty cool.
Cover photo: Stock Images
Mercedes is The Crescent’s Editor-in-Chief. She is currently a Senior majoring in Anthropology and Communications. She enjoys screenwriting, fashion, and writing about the great city of New Orleans. No topic is too obscure, and no story too niche.