A bus route connecting London‘s suburbs trumpeted by Sadiq Khan as part of a £6million investment was widely ridiculed today – and accused of being a transparent afterthought to try to head off rising fury over the Ulez expansion.
Mr Khan, who is facing a High Court battle with five councils over his road tax plan for the capital, spammed Twitter with endless posts on the so-called ‘Superloop’.
But he failed to mention it would be made up of four routes that already existed and six new ones. One retweeted message from Mr Khan’s deputy mayor for housing Tom Copley claimed ‘Forget the Hyperloop, it’s all about the Superloop’ – referring to the 190mph £5billion projects being developed around the world.
However, many were deeply unimpressed with the plan. Among them was Twitter user Slaven Krznaric who said: ‘This Superloop looks like an afterthought now that you are getting louder pushbacks from unhappy residents of outer London.
‘Not to mention that existing bus routes already cover the lion’s share of it, while express means little if you are stuck on congested roads.’
Robert Gailer added: ‘Great, now all the tradesmen can get their tools on the bus to get to jobs in London rather than be charged £12.50 plus congestion zone every day.’
The London Mayor’s new ‘Superloop’ network will be formed of a series of express buses around the outskirts of the capital – including four existing routes and a range of new routes
Sadiq Khan tweeted this photo today of a ‘Superloop’-branded bus in Northolt, West London
Former parliamentary candidate Ben Obese-Jecty said: ‘As Sadiq Khan attempts to stave off opposition to his ULEZ expansion, passing off existing routes as a “new” Superloop when they’re largely rebranded existing routes does nothing to mitigate the impact felt by those commuting in from bordering counties.’
Earlier the plans were branded a ‘Superflop’ by the Conservatives who criticised the ‘microscopic level of investment’ and called it a ‘repackaging of existing routes’.
Critics also said that few of the new services will be running by the time the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) widens to the Greater London boundary on August 29. But Mr Khan said at an event today that anyone who opposes Superloop is a ‘curmudgeon’.
The London Mayor’s ‘Superloop’ will be formed of a series of express buses around the outskirts of the capital – including four existing routes and six new routes.
The existing routes are the 607 from White City to Uxbridge, X26 from Croydon to Heathrow, X140 from Harrow to Heathrow and X68 from Croydon to Russell Square.
And a series of new routes could link Harrow to Finchley; Finchley to Walthamstow; Walthamstow to the Royal Docks; Bexleyheath to Bromley; and Bromley to Croydon.
London Assembly chair Onkar Sahota (front, far left) and Sadiq Khan (front, centre) sit on a Superloop bus this morning as the network is launched at an event in Northolt, West London
The plans for the ‘Superloop’ bus network were branded a ‘Superflop’ by the Conservatives
London TravelWatch said the new buses must be in place before Ulez is expanded – which could see an extra 700,000 motorists have to pay the £12.50 charge.
How the ‘Superloop’ will work and what routes it will cover
EXISTING ROUTES (4)
The ‘Superloop’ network will include these four existing express routes:
- 607: Bus running from White City to Uxbridge in West London, mostly along Uxbridge Road. This covers a similar route to the 207 – which is the eighth-busiest route in London – but skips many stops for a faster journey.
- X26: Route from West Croydon to Heathrow Central. The frequency of the service will be doubled to 15 minutes. There will also be changes to bus lanes and traffic signals.
- X140: Bus from Harrow to Heathrow Central. TfL’s newest express route is said to have resulted in a weekly demand increase of 15 per cent.
- X68: Route from West Croydon to Russell Square, which currently only runs weekday peak hour services.
NEW ROUTES (6)
There are also a series of new routes proposed to link up the ‘Superloop’:
- Harrow to North Finchley via Northwick Park and Hendon
- North Finchley to Walthamstow via Edmonton
- Walthamstow to Royal Docks via Ilford
- Bexleyheath to Bromley via Sidcup
- Bromley to Croydon
- X239 from Grove Park to Canary Wharf via the new Silvertown Tunnel (previously announced, expected to begin in 2025 when tunnel opens)
The Ulez operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year except Christmas. Any motorcycles and cars must meet certain emissions standards to escape the charge.
London TravelWatch added: ”Superloop’ will only truly be transformational if buses are given priority on the road. After all, a ‘limited stop’ express bus stuck in traffic is still just a bus stuck in traffic.’
The ‘Superloop’ proposals aim to connect existing services with new limited-stop routes which will help speed up journeys between suburban areas.
But Nick Rogers, the City Hall Conservatives transport spokesman, told MailOnline today: ‘Sadiq Khan’s Superloop announcement is a Superflop, amounting to nothing more than a repackaging of existing routes and vague promises that will not be delivered before his Ulez expansion hits Londoners.
‘This is a microscopic level of investment compared to the cross-party £100million plan we proposed last month, which was blocked by Labour.
‘The Mayor’s rushed plans have been thrown together in a panic and do nothing to address the devastating impact of his Ulez tax.
‘Sadiq Khan should think again, adopt our cross-party bus plan, and listen to the overwhelming majority of Londoners who want him to scrap his Ulez expansion.’
Last month it emerged that five councils – the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon and Surrey County Council – had joined together to launch a judicial review at the High Court into the Ulez expansion plans.
The frequency of the X26 will be doubled to every 15 minutes later this year – while there will also be changes to bus lanes and traffic signals to try to speed up the route, reported MyLondon.
The 607, X140 and X68 will stay the same but will be rebranded with ‘Superloop’ in front of the bus number.
In terms of new routes, the bus between Harrow and North Finchley is expected to be the first one launched and it will likely run via Northwick Park and Hendon.
Buses in the eastern section are set to take longer to arrive following a consultation, but a new map from Transport for London (TfL) indicated that they will run from Walthamstow to the Royal Docks via Ilford; and Bexleyheath to Bromley via Sidcup.
Sadiq Khan speaks to a wheelchair user at the Superloop launch event in Northolt today
The ‘Superloop’ express buses will have a new roundel to help passengers identify them
No numbers have been allocated to the new routes yet, but they are likely to be the same as the existing stopping services – except with an ‘X’ in front of them.
There is also a proposed X239 express service which has previous been announced, and would link Grove Park and Canary Wharf via the new Silvertown Tunnel.
The map from TfL indicated that this would become part of the network – but it is not expected to start until 2025 when the tunnel opens, reported the Evening Standard.
Mr Khan, who launched the ‘Superloop’ at an event in Northolt today, 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.’
The move forms part of a pledge by Mr Khan to provide a further one million kilometres (620,000 miles) of extra bus services per year.
Sadiq Khan looks out from a window of a new Superloop bus in Northolt this morning
(From left) London Assembly chair Onkar Sahota, Labour councillor Deirdre Costigan, Ealing Council leader Peter Mason and Deputy Mayor Seb Dance at the launch in Northolt today
But he has also faced questions over this promise after it was claimed that would only add less than 1 per cent to the total mileage of the 700 routes in London.
The Superloop buses will also have a new roundel to help passengers identify them, and this branding will also be seen on timetables and maps.
TfL said its newest express route, the X140 from Harrow to Heathrow, resulted in a weekly demand increase of up to 15 per cent with customer satisfaction also increasing.
Fares for the new routes will be £1.75 for any journey – the same as on any other bus in London. The ‘Hopper’ fare which allows passengers to use as many buses as they want within one hour for £1.75 will also remain in place.
That fare went up from £1.65 earlier this month in a 5.9 per cent rise that was the biggest increase for more than a decade.
Alex Williams, TfL’s chief customer and strategy officer, 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.
‘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.’
Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Bus routes are vital for thousands of colleagues and passengers travelling to Heathrow. We welcome the announcement of a Superloop service.’
Alex Holmes, a Labour councillor in Redbridge, tweeted: ‘Right now, travel by bus from Walthamstow Central to Ilford Town Centre takes two buses and 50 minutes. Sadiq Khan’s Superloop will cut down that journey to only 20 minutes.’
The X239 from Grove Park to Canary Wharf via the new Silvertown Tunnel has already been proposed, as shown in this map. The service is set to begin in 2025 when the tunnel opens
Sam Tarry, Labour MP for Ilford South, said on Twitter: ‘Fantastic news that the Superloop will be coming to Ilford. This new network will provide opportunities and connect Ilford to neighbouring towns and communities.’
And Michael Roberts, chief executive of London TravelWatch, told MailOnline: ‘We welcome the introduction of new bus services that go around London rather than just into the centre.
‘We’ve been calling for more orbital routes for some time as we know that many people value being able to travel across boroughs where they can connect to local transport interchanges.
‘These new bus routes will make it easier for people in outer London boroughs to get around for work, healthcare appointments, schools and shopping trips. We need these extra services to be in place before Ulez is expanded later this year.’