|Parent||Transport for London|
|Founded||15 July 2023|
|Service type||Express bus service|
|Routes||10 (4 existing, 6 proposed)|
Superloop is a partially implemented proposed express bus network in London, England. It will form part of the London Buses network and is planned to connect Outer London town centres, railway stations and transport hubs.
Orbital express bus routes were proposed in 2008 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, with further proposals by the London Assembly in 2017. The 'Superloop' concept was announced in 2023 by Sadiq Khan, consisting of rebranding and improvements to existing express bus routes and the introduction of new express bus routes.
Once complete, Superloop routes will form a long distance orbital service around London, as well as radial express services. The first service became operational on 15 July 2023. Subject to ongoing consultations, nine of the ten routes are expected to be operational by May 2024.
A network of Green Line limited stop orbital routes was established by the London Transport Executive from 1953. Limited stop route X26 (now Superloop route SL7) from West Croydon to Heathrow Airport is a remnant of that network.
The 2008 mayoral election manifesto of Boris Johnson promised to trial orbital express bus routes in the outer suburbs. This led to an increase in frequency for the already existing X26 express bus route later that year. The policy had been abandoned by Johnson by March 2010, citing "plenty of good studies now which suggest to me that the big investment in orbital bus routes does not actually deliver the improvements that are sometimes claimed" and there was no further expansion of the orbital network.
Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London in 2016. In August 2017 the London Assembly Transport Committee called for more orbital and express bus routes in Outer London. The idea was included in the Mayor's Transport Strategy published in March 2018, with two new indicative express corridors in North London and one in South London:
In 2018 Transport for London began a policy of reducing bus services in inner London, where there had been a drop in passenger numbers, with plans to increase services in the outer suburbs. Limited stop route X140 from Harrow to Heathrow Airport was introduced in December 2019. The new route was considered a success and expansion of the express bus network was included as a policy in the Bus action plan published by Transport for London in March 2022.
The Superloop branded proposal for a network of express orbital bus routes was announced on 28 March 2023. Transport for London noted that the proposals form part of improvements to transport in outer London in light of the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in August 2023. The proposal was praised by the Campaign for Better Transport and Heathrow Airport Holdings, however Nick Rogers AM of the Conservative Party called the proposal a "superflop" drawing attention to the "repacking of existing [bus] routes". Caroline Pidgeon AM of the Liberal Democrats cautiously welcomed the proposals, following her previous campaigns for orbital bus services. Public consultations on the five entirely new routes that were announced will take place by early 2024.
On 28 April 2023 further details of the proposals were announced and a consultation opened for route X183. On 9 June 2023 a consultation opened for route X34.
On 14 July 2023 it was announced that route SL8, a renumbering of existing route 607, would be the first to operate as part of the Superloop service from the following day. Nine of the ten routes are expected to be in service by the May 2024 mayoral election. The proposed route from Walthamstow to Royal Docks, now renumbered SL2, was extended to North Woolwich. The proposed route from Bexleyheath to Bromley, now numbered SL3, was extended to Abbey Wood and Thamesmead.
On 7 September 2023 it was announced that routes SL1 and SL10 would be introduced in 2023. Chingford was added to the route of SL1 following feedback to the public consultation.
Superloop will be part of the London Buses network, with the same fares as regular buses. It will be introduced in stages, with an initial improvement to frequency of the X26 and rebranding of existing routes.
Superloop routes, once adopted into the system, will have route numbers in the series SL1, SL2, SL3 up to SL10. The numbers are assigned clockwise around London from North Finchley. The numbers replace previous route identification for already existing routes and supplant the X series of route numbers that were used in the planning of proposed routes.
As of July 2023[update], the proposed services are:
|SL1||Orbital||North Finchley to Walthamstow Central||Public consultation 9 June–21 July 2023 as X34||Due to commence operations in 2023|
|SL2||Orbital||Walthamstow Central to North Woolwich||Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023, originally X123||Proposed to commence operations in 2024, subject to consultation|
|SL3||Orbital||Thamesmead to Bromley North||Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023, originally X269||Proposed to commence operations in 2024, subject to consultation|
|SL4||Radial||Canary Wharf to Grove Park||Proposal that predated the Superloop, originally X239||Due to commence operations in 2025, when the Silvertown Tunnel opens|
|SL5||Orbital||Bromley North to Croydon||Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023, originally X119||Proposed to commence operations in 2024, subject to consultation|
|SL6||Radial||Russell Square to West Croydon||Was X68, rebranded on 31 July 2023||Service operating|
|SL7||Orbital||West Croydon to Heathrow Airport Central||Was X26, frequency increased on 19 August 2023||Service operating|
|SL8||Radial||Uxbridge to White City||Was 607, first route to operate under the Superloop brand from 15 July 2023||Service operating|
|SL9||Orbital||Heathrow Airport Central to Harrow||Was X140, rebranded on 26 August 2023||Service operating|
|SL10||Orbital||Harrow to North Finchley||Public consultation 28 April–12 June 2023 as X183||Due to commence operations in 2023|
I would have to be honest with you about that and say that I have seen plenty of good studies now which suggest to me that the big investment in orbital bus routes does not actually deliver the improvements that are sometimes claimed.
Route 607 becomes route SL8 - From Saturday 15 July 2023, route 607 is renumbered as route SL8 ... Route SL8 runs an express bus service between White City and Uxbridge, serving all the same stops as route 607.
Route X68 becomes route SL6 from 31 July 2023.
Route X183 becomes route SL10 - A new potential Superloop route would operate between Harrow and North Finchley.