London's inaugural Superloop service starts running tomorrow (Saturday 15 July) — the first in a series of new and repurposed bus routes orbiting much of the capital.
The red 607 buses running between Uxbridge and White City disappear into their chrysalis/bus garage tonight, and will emerge on Saturday morning in perky new Superloop livery as the SL8 — ushering in a bold new era of London bus travel. Well, not exactly. As Diamond Geezer tells it, the new sweetie-coloured livery is already being flaunted along the route, with Looney Tunes-esque Superloop roundels perched on top of the bus stops. And there's nothing actually new about this particular bus route, other than the branding, and the tweaking of a few of the bus stop names.
On the whole, there are mixed feelings about the Superloop. On the face of it, this is an ambitious — and virtuous — step to get more Londoners on public transport. 10 new routes will eventually open (joining four existing ones), to link up major outer-London destinations, train stations, airports and hospitals. Not as thrilling as the Elizabeth line, perhaps, but surely a boon to London's transport network?
Yet when Superloop was announced in the spring, we were left asking certain questions, including: How will this be paid for? What's so special about Grove Park? And why would you go from Croydon to Russell Square on a bus when there are perfectly good trains that already get you into London Bridge or Victoria in under 15 minutes?
Then, of course, there's the fact that Superloop's in-your-face branding is being milked for all it's worth by the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who just happens to have an election to fight in 2024. Though he's perfectly within his rights to do do, it maybe feels a bit cheesy and even exploitative? By the way, did you know his dad used to be a bus driver...