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Harry Potter: "How come the Muggles don’t hear the bus?"
Stan Shunpike: "Them! Don’ listen properly, do they? Don’ look properly either. Never notice nuffink, they don’"
— Stun Shunpike explaining to Harry Potter about how the Knight Bus remains unseen to Muggles[src]

The Knight Bus was a triple-decker, purple AEC Regent III RT that assisted stranded individuals of the wizarding community through public transportation. It operated at a very fast speed and obstacles would jump out of its way, and it could also deceptively fit through small spaces. To hail the bus, a witch or wizard must stick their wand hand in the air in the same manner that a Muggle might do while hailing a Muggle Bus in the United Kingdom, though it is possible to book tickets for travel on the bus in advance.[1]

History

The Knight Bus

The Knight Bus was a relatively modern invention in wizarding society, which sometimes (though it would rarely admit it) took ideas from the Muggle world.[2] The need for some form of transportation that could be used safely and discreetly by the underage or the infirm had been felt for a while and many suggestions had been made (sidecars on taxi-style broomsticks, carrying baskets slung under Thestrals) all of them vetoed by the Ministry.[2] Finally the Knight Bus was first commissioned in 1865.[2] The idea was proposed by then-Minister Dugald McPhail.[2]

While some wizards (mainly pure-blood fanatics) announced their intention of boycotting what was dubbed "this Muggle-esque outrage" in the letters page of the Daily Prophet, the Knight Bus proved hugely popular with most of the community and remained busy to this day.[2]

During the early 1990s, the Knight Bus's conductor was Stan Shunpike, who greeted passengers and handled baggage, and was driven by Ernie Prang.[1]

The Leaky Cauldron offered tickets for the Knight Bus as part of its room service.[3]

Description

"There were no seats; instead, half a dozen brass bedsteads stood beside the curtained windows. Candles were burning in brackets beside each bed, illuminating the wood-paneled walls. A tiny wizard in a nightcap at the rear of the bus muttered, “Not now, thanks, I’m pickling some slugs” and rolled over in his sleep."
— Harry Potter viewing the Knight Bus in 1993[src]

Inside of the Knight Bus

Inside, during the night, the Knight Bus had beds, curtained windows and candles burning in brackets beside each bed. During the day, there were just seats that were apparently not bolted down. The bus did not seem to have much in the way of safety features, as passengers and luggage alike usually got thrown around the inside of the bus during its haphazard manoeuvres. The driver seat was more of an armchair than what a Muggle-vehicle's car seat would be. Obstacles in front of the bus appeared to jump out of the way. It did not travel underwater, but could go anywhere on land.[1]

A ride on the Knight Bus cost eleven Sickles regardless of the distance. (Harry paid eleven Sickles both to get from Surrey to London[1] and to get from London to Hogsmeade.)[4] For thirteen sickles, the rider also got hot chocolate, and, for fifteen, a hot water bottle and a toothbrush in the colour of their choice.[1]

Due to the haphazard manners of the bus's designs and services, the hot chocolate would end up spilling all over the place when served. Despite the Knight Bus being a popular travelling method for the wizarding community that had kept it busy to this day, most of its passengers seemed very pleased to get off when they finally arrived at their stop.[1]

Known passengers

"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this eve — What were you doin’ down there?"
— Stan Shunpike introducing himself to Harry Potter[src]

Harry Potter after calling the bus

In August 1993, Harry Potter stumbled across the Knight Bus after leaving 4 Privet Drive, following the inadvertent inflation of Marjorie Dursley. He was almost run over by the bus after seeing a black dog looming in the shadows. On the same day, Madam Marsh was using the Knight Bus to travel to Abergavenny. Harry Potter got off the Knight Bus at the Leaky Cauldron.[1]

On 20 April, 1994, Rubeus Hagrid and the hippogriff Buckbeak travelled together on the Knight Bus for a hearing in front of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures in regards to Buckbeak's future following the attack on Draco Malfoy.[5]

During the Christmas holidays in December 1995, Hermione used the Knight Bus to join everyone at 12 Grimmauld Place after Nagini's attack on Arthur Weasley.[6]

In January 1996, Harry, Ron, and Hermione travelled back to Hogwarts from 12 Grimmauld Place on the Knight Bus after the Christmas holidays. They were accompanied by Lupin and Tonks. Madam Marsh was also on the Knight Bus but had to get off due to illness.[4]

Etymology

The Knight Bus is named after the various night bus services throughout Great Britain, as well as a play on the word "knight", as it gives the connotation that the vehicle comes to the rescue of those who need it.[7]

Behind the scenes

The Shrunken Head in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The 2011 LEGO Harry Potter Knight Bus set

The 2019 LEGO Harry Potter Knight Bus set

The Knight Bus as seen in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

  • The Knight Bus seen in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, used a body constructed from three separate RT-class AEC Regent III buses. The triple-deck body was then fitted to a Dennis Javelin bus chassis. In order to portray the bus driving at high speeds, the cars around the bus drove slower while the bus drove at its top speed, and the footage was sped up afterward. Two buses were constructed for the film's external shots, while the interior shots were filmed on a set that would rock back and forth to simulate the bus' movement.
  • The bus's height posed a challenge for the filmmakers when the vehicle was required to pass underneath bridges. To solve this problem, the top of the bus was designed to be removable.
  • Since Apparition would be a faster and more practical way of transportation, the Knight Bus may be used for those who cannot use Apparition or Portkeys, or those who are underage, and therefore need the bus, and may even be accessible to Squibs.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a talking Shrunken Head with a Caribbean accent was hung from the rear-view mirror.
  • In the book, items appear to jump away to avoid collision. In the film, the bus just swerves around or squeezes past (or through) obstacles, and in terms of the latter, the driver is shown throwing a switch that causes the bus to contract. The bus also becomes invisible within the distance, materialising when called, and vanishing when leaving.
  • The bus appears to travel over large distances with the sound of an explosion, indicating that it may use some form of Apparition to do so.
  • The bus may have something similar to a powerful Imperturbable Charm upon it as objects appear to get out of its way.
  • One notable feature of the film adaptation of the Knight Bus is the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the Knight Bus squeezes in between two London Buses brick by brick.
  • In a International trailer for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry says to Stanley Shunpike while riding the Knight Bus: "Isn't this a bit dangerous?" to which Stan replies: "No. We haven't had an accident in about a week." These lines were cut from the final version of the film.
  • The LEGO Harry Potter Knight Bus sets are noted for their heavy use of purple bricks, which are rare and therefore much valued both for novelty and for collectors to use in their "My Own Creations."[9]
  • Concept art for the Knight Bus by Julian Caldow depicts it en route to Aberdeenshire, Cardiff, The Lizard, London, and the Isle of Skye.[10]
  • Although the capacity of the bus is not stated in the books, in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a sign inside the bus states that the bus can carry 9 passengers, 3 on each level.
  • An illustration of the Knight Bus was chosen for the cover art of the fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Author's comments

"The Knight Bus was so-named because, firstly, knight is a homonym of night, and there are night buses running all over Britain after normal transport stops. Secondly, ‘knight’ has the connotation of coming to the rescue, of protection, and this seemed appropriate for a vehicle that is often the conveyance of last resort.

The driver and conductor of the Knight Bus in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ are named after my two grandfathers, Ernest and Stanley."

Appearances

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Notes and references

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