Has the Superloop made buses fashionable again?

Like many marketing stunts, it’s not all that it seems. Superloop will be a mostly orbital network consisting of seven suburban sections, plus three “spokes” heading in and out of central London.

Superloop map: The wheels on the Superloop buses go round and round outer London

/ TfL

Two outer sections (the X26 and X140) are already operating to and from Heathrow — one to West Croydon, the other to Harrow.

Ditto for two of the three “spokes” —the 607 from Uxbridge to White City, and the X68 that links Croydon to Russell Square.

The third spoke — from Grove Park to Canary Wharf — has already been consulted upon (as the X239).

Now, like the other express routes, it will be rebranded in the Superloop’s retro colours but won’t start running until the Mayor’s unloved Silvertown tunnel opens in 2025.

Consultation on the first genuinely new route — between Harrow and North Finchley — will start next month. But it will probably take until the end of 2024 until all seven sections of the circular loop have express buses.

This is somewhat awkward, as the Ulez is due to expand to the Greater London boundary on August 29 this year.

Another embarrassment is that all parts of the route won’t, initially at least, feature the latest “zero emission” electric buses. The X26 section is too long for battery electric vehicles, TfL admits.

In total, the Superloop will add five million kilometres to the London bus network — less than one per cent.

But let’s remain economical with the actualité. Londoners are talking about the Superloop. Not just bus nerds but normal people. It was the best-read story on the Standard’s website by a country (or suburban bus) mile.

Facebook and WhatsApp neighbourhood groups were buzzing with excitement: could the Superloop get them to work, or their children to a sought-after school in a neighbouring borough?

It will cost the same as any other London bus — £1.75 — the definition of a bargain these days. It will surely get more Londoners out of their cars, though perhaps only a few.

But what it’s also done is shown the potential for future bus travel. Whisper it, but has the Superloop made buses trendy?