A new fast bus route, called the Superloop, has been announced by the Mayor of London today, that may improve bus routes around the periphery of London, if it’s built.

In essence, a number of existing express bus routes, which stop at just a handful of stops will be rebranded, and then subject to consultation, more sections will be added to create a near-loop around London.

The bus route aims to fix one of the issues with much of the public transport network, in that it’s oriented towards funnelling people in and out of central London.

Since the pandemic, travel around the suburbs has recovered much faster than travel into central London, with people who work from home some days more likely to travel to a local town centre than into the centre to go shopping.

TfL says that the most recently introduced limited-stop express route, the X140, delivered a 10-15 per cent increase in weekday demand, so there is pent-up demand for faster bus links between the major town centres. Although the X140 route only serves 13 stops in each direction, these stops interchange with 42 other bus routes and seven different rail lines.

The hopper fare allows people to swap between the X140 and other feeder bus routes without paying twice.

Now they want to expand that concept to run around outer London.

The information from the Mayor’s office is still fairly high-level, so there are a lot of unknowns. Will the buses actually be a loop service, or will people need to swap buses at the end of each quadrant, and who will operate the buses?

Although the GLA is providing £8 million to TfL to get the service up and running, that’s likely going to primarily cover the cost of rebranding work and consultations. There certainly isn’t any money for more buses or substantial upgrades to the road network to give the buses their own dedicated lanes.

The existing semi-fast bus routes that will be rebranded as Superloop buses will be the X140 connecting Heathrow and Harrow, and a more frequent route X26 connecting Heathrow and West Croydon.

That would create a Superloop link between Harrow and Croydon, via Heathrow Airport.

The next new part of the outer London bus network will be the route linking Harrow with North Finchley, which is subject to consultation.

Following that, views will be sought on future sections of the orbital network. These proposed future sections include a limited-stop express link between North Finchley and Walthamstow and between Walthamstow and the Royal Docks via Ilford. Links are also proposed between Bexleyheath, Bromley and Croydon. Some of the benefits of the proposed Superloop will be realised later this year, with the X26 doubling in frequency so that buses run every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.

However, at the moment there’s no timeline for the completion of the Superloop, or any guarantee that it will be built, as it’s quite possible that the public consultations could come out against the proposals.


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  1. Huw Thomas says:

    I think without substantial bus priority this will be a pretty useless initiative. Travel around the north circular bus bus during the day and skipping a few stops will make ~0 difference to journey times. It’s all traffic which means that it often quicker to take the train via zone 1 rather than a direct bus.

  2. John Finch says:

    Not a bad re-creation of the 725 route of my youth


  3. cjw714 says:

    Am intrigued as to how they are going to make an express bus route between Bromley and Croydon as there is no obvious direct route between the two.

    • ChrisC says:

      One of the biggest things that slows down buses is the number of stops they make and having to wait for passengers to get off and on as well as the pulling out and in to stops.

      Cutting out stops does speed up services.

  4. Chz says:

    A lot of the proposals seem sketchy at best, but I can’t complain about seeing the X26 go 4 per hour. I understand there’s no way they can make money on that route for a £1.75 fare, but it’s an important link for a lot of people and quite well-travelled. People have campaigned for this for over a decade, only to be told the spreadsheet says no.

  5. Al says:

    Could a similar result for part of the superloop have been achieved with a route that roughly follows the 123 from Ilford, before diverging west from Turnpike Lane to Hornsey onto Hendon or Brent Cross West?

  6. Andrew Heenan says:

    London Buses don’t have a good track record with limited stop services. The X43 covered much of the 43 route with ‘express buses’; they were always full and zoomed past their more sedate standard 43s.
    But they were single door buses, and the time wasted at bus stops allowed all the time gains to be lost.
    Rather than improve it, London Buses gave up.

  7. Peter Watmore says:

    60 years ago the southern section of this new plan was covered Dartford to Windsor by Green Line Bus 725. So for south of the River Thames I hope that whoever thought this up doesn’t get paid for idea for the southern section.

  8. Thomas Day says:

    I’m curious what business Canary Wharf to Grove Park has in this proposed loop?

    • AndrewK says:

      Southeastern has cut services and but there is demand with developments around Kidbrooke. Needs to be some new bus routes when the Silvertown tunnel is finished.

  9. Dr bernard crocker says:

    I live in Cheam. The X26 goes via Che
    am from Croydon to LHR on a 1/2hourly service. It is hugely popular but really need to be 3 per hour to avoid overcrowding , especially with airline passengers and their suitcases.

  10. Andrew More says:

    The ‘Superloop’ linking Bromley to Croydon (and vice versa) already exists – it’s called the 119. Just missing out some stops won’t improve the times greatly and seems rather pointless.

  11. Henry Allum says:

    An orbital tram network would be much better!

  12. Joan Chappell says:

    Was this an April Fool by any chance Ian?…..

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