The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans for a network of limited-stop express bus routes that circle the entire capital – connecting outer London town centres, railway stations, hospitals and transport hubs, faster.
The Superloop will provide quicker journey times, with the Mayor of London providing £6m funding as an initial catalyst to improvements to outer London orbital bus services. It is proposed to be introduced in stages with some routes that would become part of the Superloop now in operation, providing quick links across outer London. This includes the X140 connecting Heathrow and Harrow, and a more frequent route X26 connecting Heathrow and West Croydon. The next new part of the outer London bus network will be the route linking Harrow with North Finchley, subject to consultation. TfL is working with the relevant boroughs on initial proposals for this next section and will consult on the route in the coming months.
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.
TfL data shows that the most recently introduced limited-stop express route, the X140, delivered a 10-15 per cent increase in weekday demand and that frequencies at the busiest stops served by the 140 was increased. Surveys found that customers had increased satisfaction with their journey times and nearly four in five said they would use the X140 more often.
The Superloop brand is designed to work with the iconic London Buses brand by using a new Roundel and bus livery to ensure clear identification of the new service, but still recognisable as part of the London Buses network. The new branding will also feature on maps, timetables and other pieces of customer information.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “When I made the tough decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide, one of my key commitments to Londoners was to improve transport links in outer London. Today I am delivering on that commitment as we announce the Superloop, the game-changing new network of express buses that will add over four million additional kilometres to our bus network in outer London, linking stations, town centres, hospitals and transport hubs. These new routes will make it much easier for Londoners to get around the capital, and help build a better, greener London for everyone.”
Alex Williams, Chief Customer and Strategy Officer at TfL, said: “The Superloop is the jewel in the crown in our plans to strengthen alternatives to the private car ahead of the ULEZ expanding London-wide and is a game changer for outer London. For the first time we will be bringing a number of the capital’s town centres together with express orbital routes. We know these kinds of services are hugely popular from what we have seen in the rise in the number of people using the X140 during the week.
“Part of making the bus network even more attractive is providing new routes and increasing frequencies where it is required – both of which we are doing with this new iconic service. The Superloop is on top of, and complements, a million additional bus kilometres committed by the Mayor in the capital’s outer ring and includes improvements from Sutton in the south to Brent Cross in the north, as well as transformational changes to London’s rail network outside the centre of the city.”
Ben Curtis, Campaigns Officer at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This is another welcome step from Transport for London to expand the availability of public transport in outer London. Millions across the capital use the bus every day, and we are delighted that thousands more will now benefit from a joined-up public transport network thanks to the introduction of Superloop services.”
Shobi Khan, CEO of Canary Wharf Group, said: “Canary Wharf is one of the best-connected places in London. We have created a vibrant mixed-use community offering an extraordinary environment for those who live, work and visit. Over 1.2 million people come to Canary Wharf each week. We already have direct services into Canary Wharf via the Elizabeth Line, Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway, and the Thames Clipper Service. We welcome the introduction of the Superloop as it will enable even more people across London to enjoy everything Canary Wharf has to offer.”
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, said: “Bus routes are vital for thousands of colleagues and passengers travelling to Heathrow. We welcome the announcement of a Superloop service that will provide quicker connections and we look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor to deliver vital connectivity in outer London’.
James Murray, Member of Parliament for Ealing North, said: “In outer London, it is especially important for us to have quick and reliable bus routes. I very much welcome the Mayor’s new Superloop, and its more direct services between many of our town centres and stations. I hope this will make it easier and faster for many people living in outer London to get around the city by public transport.”
Oliver Lord, Head of Strategy and UK at Clean Cities Campaign, said: “I’m excited to see plans for the Superloop and especially as car trips are a huge source of air pollution in outer London. Our Win-Win report was clear that to make schemes like the ULEZ work for everyone, city leaders need to invest in public transport so that services are attractive, available and affordable, so it is great to see the Mayor setting this example.”
James Cleeton, Sustrans London Director, said: “This Superloop could be the start of a transformative initiative to connect outer London. This new service will connect many more Londoners to town centres and the high-quality bus, train and tube networks. Lack of access to quality walking, cycling and public transport provision traps people in costly car dependency, which damages our health, our environment and our communities. This is a great step in tackling that dependency. We would also like to see much greater investment in walking and cycling provision in outer London, where car use is greatest. “
The Superloop will be designed to provide quicker journey times while still serving key hubs and interchanges with rail and local bus services. For example, while route X140 only serves 13 stops in each direction, these offer interchange with 42 other bus routes and seven different rail lines. The Mayor’s Hopper fare would allow people who started their journeys within 60 minutes to transfer onto local bus services free of charge to complete their journeys where required. Data from the X140 shows that over 40 per cent of users of the route have interchanged from another bus, showing the benefits of the Hopper Fare and the desire to travel by limited-stop express services.
In November 2022 when he announced the expansion of the ULEZ, the Mayor committed to the introduction of a million extra bus kilometres in outer London. Earlier this month, TfL launched four consultations that set out improvements to bus services in Brent Cross, Harold Wood/Upminster, Stonebridge Park and Tooting. The plans cover extensions of routes to key growth areas or town centres, and more direct and frequent services. They complement previously announced enhancements, which include three new routes in the Sutton and Croydon areas, with improved services to the new Cancer Hub at the Royal Marsden Hospital. New zero-emission cross-river services will also be introduced in east London, subject to consultation. TfL is also continuing work on plans for further expansion across outer London, including in Southall and Haringey. These packages of bus enhancements, complement other plans to improve the outer London public transport network, including introducing the full peak timetable on the Elizabeth line this May and introducing new trains on the DLR and Piccadilly line.
In addition, TfL confirmed yesterday that more than £35m of further funding has been allocated to outer London boroughs to make streets healthier and safer for all as part of TfL’s Local Implementation Plan funding. The whole programme will see 29km of bus lane schemes and is providing £10.6m to London boroughs to deliver bus journey time improvements.
Enhanced public transport, walking and cycling options in outer London will help people move to more sustainable travel options. Recently announced TfL data shows that nine in 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day now meet the Ultra Low Emission Zone standards. It is expected that when the standards cover the larger area, the proportion will be even higher. The ULEZ has already been hugely successful in central and inner London, helping to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels by 46 per cent in central London and 21 per cent in inner London. The ULEZ expansion will save nearly 27,000 tonnes of CO2 in outer London in its first year, more than double that which the central London ULEZ achieved in its first year of operation. Amongst other improvements, the expansion is forecast to make further progress to reduce air pollution, by reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from cars in outer London by 10 per cent and reducing PM2.5 car exhaust emissions in outer London by nearly 16 per cent.
Londoners interested in the Mayor’s suggestion of improving outer London transport options with an orbital bus route can sign up for updates at https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/superloop and find more information about what TfL is doing to improve public transport in outer Londoner here: tfl.gov.uk/outer-london.
The Superloop will comprise 10 routes in total. Four of these are existing:
- X26 runs from Croydon to Heathrow Airport
This service is already running, and will become part of the new Superloop of routes circling outer London boroughs, and later this year will see increased frequency
In addition, as this service connects with Heathrow Airport, this route runs for 20 hours a day, starting at 04:15 from Croydon and last service getting into Croydon at 01:40. Currently this service runs roughly every 30 minutes.
- X140 runs from Heathrow Airport to Harrow
This service is already running and will become part of the Superloop of routes.
This service currently runs from Heathrow at 05:55 and runs every 12 minutes in the peak (07:00 – 20:00).
- 607 runs from Uxbridge to White City
This service is already running and will be branded as part of the Superloop
This service currently runs from Uxbridge at 05:30 and runs every 8 – 12 minutes in the peak (07:00 – 19:00)
- X68 runs from Russell Square to Croydon
This service is currently running from Russell Square to Croydon. This will be branded as part of the Superloop.
This service currently runs from Russell Square to Croydon in the morning peak (Mon – Fri). The first bus is at 05:50 and the final bus is 08:30
Six of the routes are new, although one has already been consulted on.
- Canary Wharf – Grove Park.
This service was consulted upon as part of the Silvertown opening bus network (as X239). The consultation closed in January 2023. It will be operational by 2025, when the tunnel opens.
The other five routes will all be consulted on separately between now and spring 2024.
- North Finchley – Walthamstow
Travelling North Finchley – Arnos Grove – Edmonton
- Walthamstow – Royal Docks
Walthamstow – Ilford – Royal Docks
- Bexleyheath – Bromley
Bexleyheath – Sidcup – Queen Mary’s Hospital (Sidcup) – Bromley
- Bromley – Croydon
Bromley – Croydon