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15 Jun, 2023 01:10

Polish ‘Satanic bus’ scrapped after protests

A transit operator has re-numbered route 666 to Hel following complaints, reportedly from Catholics
Polish ‘Satanic bus’ scrapped after protests

The Baltic Sea resort of Hel in Poland’s Pomerania province will no longer be served by bus route 666, the local transit operator announced on Wednesday. PKS Gdynia cited complaints by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the reasons for the decision.

The route will be re-numbered starting June 24, transit company executive Marcin Szwaczyk told the news portal Trojmiasto.

“We changed the number from 666 to 669, [to be] less controversial and less conspicuous,” said  Szwaczyk. “For us, the most important thing is that the buses run and that the routes are served properly. The line number is secondary.”

Back in 2006, the company’s predecessor had assigned the numbers 650 to 664 to bus routes that operated during the school year, and 665 to 669 to seasonal services. At some point, English-speaking visitors noticed the pun in taking route 666 to “Hell” and the line became a tourist attraction. 

The meme route became so popular with outside visitors that Hel, a community of some 10,000 residents, became overcrowded at times during the summer beach season. Some tourists made the trip to the peninsula only to ride the bus. 

While the “Satanic bus” proved to be good for business, it was perceived less charitably by some in the traditionally Catholic country. Christian numerology associates 666 with the devil, based on a line from the Biblical Book of Revelation about the “number of the beast.” 

Back in 2018, the Catholic newspaper Fronda called the pun “Satanic stupidity” and argued that it made frivolous fun of the “horror of soul death and separation from God’s love.” The outlet said it would call on the Polish government to intervene unless PKS Gdynia changed the route number.

“The Bus line 666 running to Hel, to put it briefly and bluntly, strikes at the Christian order of the Polish state and its foundations, and hence – at the well-being of all of us,” the paper noted.

Now that the company has bowed to pressure, Szwaczyk said it has been inundated with complaints from the other camp. “We are shocked how many supporters of the old numbering have contacted us,” he told Trojmiasto, adding that it might be possible for Route 666 to return – maybe not this year, but perhaps the next.