Bus With 'Please Call Police' and 'Call 911' Messages Causes Concern Online

An emergency sign displayed on a bus asking pedestrians to "call 911" concerned people online after a brief video of the message gained over three million views.

The video was uploaded by Philadelphia resident Conrad Benner, who had spotted the worrying message while out in the city. "Never in my life have I seen a SEPTA bus display this," he said.

On the front of the bus, the destination sign instead read: "CALL 911" and "PLEASE CALL POLICE."

Unsurprisingly, the plea for help startled Benner, but his fears were quickly allayed by the driver. "I did not know what to do," he said. "But luckily the driver rolled up and said he was okay. The sign was just broken."

In the clip, the bus driver opened the doors and could be heard beginning to tell Benner that the sign was simply broken.

For many online, there were doubts about how a sign could malfunction such a specific message, but SEPTA confirmed to Newsweek that it is a pre-saved message in the bus system used for emergencies.

"This is a message operators can display in case of emergency, while simultaneously contacting SEPTA police via dispatch. This could also be for a medical emergency too, not just a police response," said SEPTA public information manager John Golden in an email.

"It should be noted that in the video the voice states that the driver told him he was ok and the sign was just broken temporarily," he added.

@streetsdept

Nothing was wrong, but damn!

♬ Oh No - Kreepa

Despite TikToker Benner's reassurance, many on TikTok were concerned about the welfare of the driver and, as TikTok so often does, created detailed theories surrounding what could have happened.

Benner once more took to TikTok to explain that the bus driver was not a part of a hostage situation or forced to say the sign was an accident. "I could see that the bus was empty, logically if this person was being held, the hostage taker wouldn't know that the sign was on (and the driver wouldn't have opened the door to say anything)"

"But again, the bus was empty, it was just the driver and the driver let me know that the sign was just broken.

"Also, I grew up in Philly, these signs are often broken, i've never seen this explicit one, but the signs are often broken," he added.

Benner continued that he contacted SEPTA through a Twitter DM after the popularity of the video. "As the operator stated. These types of technical errors do occur," replied SEPTA.

The story might not have had the ending TikTok users had theorized, but it has raised awareness of the emergency signs buses are able to use in most cities across the U.S.

Boston buses, for example, also flash "Emergency. Call Transport Police" in cases of emergency. Massachusetts Bay Transport Police advise citizens to call Transport Police or 911 if they ever see this sign.

In New York City, Metropolitan Transport Authority buses also are able to display an emergency sign reading: "Emergency. Call Police."