A Superloop branded bus on route SL1
ParentTransport for London
Founded15 July 2023
LocaleGreater London
Service typeExpress bus service
Routes10 (9 existing, 1 planned)

Superloop is an express bus network in London, England, that forms part of the London Buses network and connects 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 Johnson's successor, Sadiq Khan, consisting of renumbering and improvements to existing express bus routes and the introduction of new express bus routes.

Ten Superloop routes operated by different companies form a long-distance orbital service around London, with some radial express services.[1] The first service became operational on 15 July 2023. Nine of the routes are operational as of March 2024. Bus stops served by Superloop routes have specific branding indicating this.[2]



A network of Green Line limited stop orbital routes was established by the London Transport Executive from 1953.[3] Limited stop route X26 (now Superloop route SL7) from West Croydon to Heathrow Airport is a remnant of that network.[4]

The 2008 mayoral election manifesto of Boris Johnson promised to trial orbital express bus routes in the outer suburbs.[5] This led to an increase in frequency for the already existing X26 express bus route later that year.[6] 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.[7][8]

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.[9] 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:[10]

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.[11] Limited-stop route X140 from Harrow to Heathrow Airport was introduced in December 2019.[12] 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.[13]

Superloop announcements

The Superloop branded proposal for a network of express orbital bus routes was announced on 28 March 2023 at a cost of £6 million.[14][15] 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 (ULEZ) in August 2023.[16] The proposal was praised by the Campaign for Better Transport and Heathrow Airport Holdings,[16] however Nick Rogers AM of the Conservative Party called the proposal a "superflop" drawing attention to the "repacking of existing [bus] routes".[16] 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 took place between April and September 2023.[17]

On 28 April 2023 further details of the proposals were announced and a consultation opened for route X183.[18][19] On 9 June 2023 a consultation opened for route X34.[20][21] 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.[22][23] The proposed route from Walthamstow to Royal Docks was revised to terminate at North Woolwich, and at the same time, the proposed route from Bexleyheath to Bromley was revised to terminate at Thamesmead.[24]

On 7 September 2023 it was announced that routes SL1 and SL10 would be introduced in autumn 2023. Two stops in South Chingford and two stops in Meridian Water were added to the route of SL1 following feedback to the public consultation.[25]

On 20 October 2023 it was announced that routes SL2 and SL3 would be introduced in spring 2024.[26] On 5 December 2023 it was announced that route SL5 would be introduced on 3 February 2024.[27] In March 2024, the loop was completed, with route SL4 to be introduced when the Silvertown Tunnel opens in March 2025.[28]

Future expansion

During the 2024 London mayoral election, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan proposed an additional 10 Superloop routes across London, as well as an express bus route via Old Kent Road prior to construction of the Bakerloo line extension taking place.[15]


Bus stop served by route SL7 outside Hatton Cross station

Superloop is part of the London Buses network, with the same fares as normal buses. It was introduced in stages, with an initial improvement to frequency of the X26 and rebranding of existing routes.[16][29]

Superloop routes 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 and supplant the X series of route numbers that were used in the planning of routes X34 and X183 before they were renumbered to SL1 and SL10 respectively.[22]

As of March 2024, the services are as follows:[29][30]

Route Number Colour Type Route History Status Operator(s)
SL1 Orbital North Finchley to Walthamstow Central Public consultation 9 June–21 July 2023 as X34. Introduced on 9 December 2023 as SL1. Service operating. Arriva London
SL2 Orbital Walthamstow Central to North Woolwich Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023.[31] Introduced on 2 March 2024.[32] Service operating.
SL3 Orbital Thamesmead to Bromley North Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023.[33] Introduced on 24 February 2024. Service operating. Stagecoach London
SL4 Radial Canary Wharf to Grove Park Originally proposed as part of the Silvertown Tunnel proposals, originally X239.[34] To be introduced in March 2025, when the Silvertown Tunnel opens. Go-Ahead London
SL5 Orbital Bromley North to Croydon Public consultation 21 July–4 September 2023.[35] Introduced on 3 February 2024. Service operating. Arriva London
SL6 Radial Russell Square to West Croydon Operated as X68 since 27 October 1986 and renumbered SL6 on 31 July 2023.[36][37] Service operating, weekdays during peak hours only. Runs towards Russell Square in the morning peak, and runs towards West Croydon in the evening peak. Go-Ahead London
SL7 Orbital West Croydon to Heathrow Airport Central Operated as X26 since April 2005 and renumbered SL7 on 19 August 2023. Service operating.
SL8 Radial Uxbridge to White City Operated as 607 since 21 July 1990 and renumbered SL8 on 15 July 2023.[22][23] Service operating. Metroline
SL9 Orbital Heathrow Airport Central to Harrow Operated as X140 since 7 December 2019 and renumbered SL9 on 26 August 2023. Service operating. RATP Dev Transit London
SL10 Orbital Harrow to North Finchley Public consultation 28 April–12 June 2023 as X183.[38] Introduced on 25 November 2023 as SL10. Service operating.

See also


  1. ^ "Superloop". Transport for London. Details of services, with schematic map, downloadable.
  2. ^ insidecroydon (2023-07-29). "Not so superloopy about our Superloop route into London". Inside Croydon. Retrieved 2024-04-19.
  3. ^ Beddall, David (2022). Luton's Transport. Pen & Sword.
  4. ^ Lyons, Mark (2022). The Go-Ahead Group. Key Publishing.
  5. ^ "Manifesto 2008: Boris Johnson" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Orbital express bus route to double in frequency". Transport for London. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  7. ^ Johnson, Boris; Valerie, Shawcross (17 March 2010). "Manifesto Commitments (Supplementary) [8]". Greater London Authority. Retrieved 30 March 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.
  8. ^ Hill, Dave (27 January 2011). "Boris Johnson: transport promises". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  9. ^ "London's bus network" (PDF). London Assembly. Greater London Authority. August 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Mayor's Transport Strategy" (PDF). Greater London Authority. March 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  11. ^ Walker, Amy (18 August 2018). "London bus cuts to hit working-class hardest, says watchdog". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  12. ^ Peracha, Qasim. "TfL launches 4 new West London bus routes with 2 going to Heathrow Airport". MyLondon. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  13. ^ Lydall, Ross (15 March 2022). "TfL plan to speed-up London buses: not stopping at bus stops and banning cars from key roads". Evening Standard. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  14. ^ Lydall, Ross (28 March 2023). "Sadiq Khan unveils 'Superloop' bus network for London suburbs". Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  15. ^ a b Vickers, Noah (2024-04-19). "Mayor unveils plan to create 'Superloop 2' bus network if re-elected". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2024-05-10.
  16. ^ a b c d Elgueta, Adriana (28 March 2023). "New fast bus service to link London's outer boroughs". BBC News. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  17. ^ Harris, Simon (28 March 2023). "Superloop plan by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to create outer London orbital bus network". ITV News. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  18. ^ Lydall, Ross (28 April 2023). "New details about London's Superloop bus route revealed". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  19. ^ "Proposals for a new limited stop express bus route between Harrow and North Finchley (X183 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 28 April 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  20. ^ "Proposals for a new limited stop express bus route between North Finchley and Walthamstow (X34 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 9 June 2023. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  21. ^ Lydall, Ross (9 June 2023). "Superloop: Details of North Finchley to Walthamstow section revealed". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  22. ^ a b c Lydall, Ross (14 July 2023). "All aboard! First Superloop bus route will launch on Saturday, Sadiq Khan announces". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 July 2023.
  23. ^ a b "Superloop". Transport for London. Retrieved 15 July 2023. 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.
  24. ^ Chamberlain, Darryl (14 July 2023). "Thamesmead and Abbey Wood join TfL's new Superloop bus network". 853. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  25. ^ Tatum, Adrian (7 September 2023). "TfL confirms new routes and next steps for the next phase of the Superloop network in outer London". Highways News. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  26. ^ Lydall, Ross (20 October 2023). "Superloop buses will form orbital route around London by spring 2024". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Proposals for a new express bus route between Bromley and Croydon (SL5 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 21 July 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  28. ^ "Superloop: Main circle of express bus services completed". BBC News. 2024-03-12. Retrieved 2024-05-10.
  29. ^ a b "Superloop - proposals for a network of limited-stop express buses connecting outer London". Have Your Say Transport for London. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  30. ^ Marius, Callum (29 March 2023). "'I went on TfL's first Superloop bus and found out how it's all going to work'". MyLondon. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Proposals for a new express bus route between Walthamstow and North Woolwich Ferry (SL2 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 21 July 2023. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  32. ^ "New route SL2 introduced - 2 March 2024". Transport for London. Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  33. ^ "Proposals for a new express bus route between Thamesmead and Bromley (SL3 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 21 July 2023. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  34. ^ "Silvertown Tunnel Bus Network Proposals". Transport for London. 28 March 2023. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  35. ^ "Proposals for a new express bus route between Bromley and Croydon (SL5 bus route), part of the Superloop". Transport for London. 21 July 2023. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  36. ^ "Superloop". Transport for London. Retrieved 15 July 2023. Route X68 becomes route SL6 from 31 July 2023.
  37. ^ Lloyd-Scott, Sarah (3 July 2023). "Superloop update: Bus route 607 renamed to SL8 - from 15 July". Tech Forum. Transport for London. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  38. ^ "Superloop". Transport for London. Retrieved 15 July 2023. Route X183 becomes route SL10 - A new potential Superloop route would operate between Harrow and North Finchley.