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Woolwich and Eltham in line for Superloop buses, Sadiq Khan pledges

Woolwich and Eltham could join the Superloop network of express bus services if Sadiq Khan wins next month’s election, the Labour mayor has said.

Khan has put forward ten more Superloop routes as part of his campaign to be re-elected on May 2.

They include a service linking North Greenwich, Woolwich and Thamesmead as well as a link between Eltham, Lee, Tulse Hill and Streatham.

Khan’s proposed “Bakerloop” service along the route of the planned Bakerloo Line extension between Lewisham and Elephant & Castle is also included.

But the list does not include a direct Woolwich to Eltham link, which Greenwich’s Labour council and Tory opposition have both lobbied for. It also does not include any extra routes using the Silvertown Tunnel, which will be served by just two buses when it opens next summer. 

Route SL3 at Thamesmead
The Thamesmead to Bromley SL3 was launched earlier this year. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Khan said: “The success of the Superloop is one of my proudest achievements as mayor, connecting Londoners to key locations in outer London and getting more people onto public transport. It has been nothing short of a game changer – making journeys quicker and more convenient.

“The proposed new routes will all be subject to consultation with Londoners, but I’ve asked Transport for London to start looking at how they could best serve key locations – whether popular town centres, other transport hubs or public services like hospitals.”

Faster links between North Greenwich, Woolwich and Thamesmead – effectively a limited-stop version of the existing 472 – have been discussed for many years. A Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme was scrapped by Boris Johnson in 2008. The government recently announced funding for new bus services to serve planned developments in Thamesmead.

But the cross-south London link from Eltham to Streatham would be brand new. Very few routes currently link southeast and southwest London. Those that do are often stuck in heavy traffic, particularly along the South Circular Road.

The planned network of routes. Credit: London Labour

The proposed routes, subject to consultation, are: 

  • North Greenwich to Thamesmead, via Woolwich
  • Streatham to Eltham, via Tulse Hill and Lee
  • ‘Bakerloop line’: Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, via Old Kent Road and New Cross
  • Harrow to Barnet, via Edgware
  • Barnet to Stratford, via Enfield and Chingford
  • Leytonstone to “South Havering” (an exact destination is not given), via Gants Hill and Romford
  • Richmond to Wimbledon, via Roehampton
  • Ealing Broadway to Kingston, via Great West Road and Richmond
  • Hounslow to Hammersmith, via Great West Road
  • Hendon to Ealing Broadway, via Brent Cross and Hanger Lane

The mayor has promised to continue lobbying the Government to fund the Bakerloo line Tube extension, among other Tube and rail projects.

When the Superloop was first announced by the mayor last year, backed by £6 million of funding, it was attacked by his Tory critics as “nothing more than a repackaging of existing routes and vague promises” and “a microscopic level of investment”.

On the Superloop 2 plans, Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall said: “Sadiq Khan’s last attempt at an orbital bus service turned out to be a Superflop, and there is no reason why this would be any different.

“I have long called for more investment in outer London buses and I will deliver this without hammering motorists with Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion or bringing in his pay-per-mile plans. On May 2, you have the chance to vote for a mayor who listens.”

Mr Khan denies he plans to bring in ‘pay-per-mile’ road user charging, having explicitly ruled it out in his manifesto.

SL3 at Bexleyheath
Khan hopes to have 20 Superloop routes in operation. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Four of the original 10 Superloop routes were ‘re-badged’ existing services, albeit with increased frequencies.

It is not yet clear whether any of the Superloop 2 routes will use existing services, but the mayor’s campaign team pointed out that even the re-badged routes have seen increased ridership. For example, the SL7 – which runs from Heathrow to West Croydon – saw a 56 per cent ridership rise between June and November following its rebrand and frequency boost.

The election is coming…

A total of 13 candidates are standing to be London mayor. The government has changed the voting system this time around so voters will select just one candidate with a cross, rather than giving a first and second preference as in previous elections.

In another change brought in by the government, photo ID is needed for those using polling stations to vote – voters without ID have until April 24 to apply for a special card. ID will not be needed for postal votes but the deadline to apply has passed. 

The election will be on May 2, with results announced two days later. More details at londonelects.org.uk.

Mayoral candidates: Femy Amin (Animal Welfare Party), Count Binface (Count Binface for Mayor of London), Rob Blackie (Lib Dem), Natalie Campbell (Independent), Howard Cox (Reform UK), Amy Gallagher (Social Democratic Party), Zoe Garbett (Green Party), Tarun Ghulati (Independent), Susan Hall (Conservative), Sadiq Khan (Labour), Andreas Michli (Independent), Brian Rose (London Real), Nick Scanlon (Britain First)

Greenwich & Lewisham assembly candidates: Len Duvall (Labour & Co-op), Josh Matthews (Lib Dem), Mark Simpson (Reform UK), Karin Tearle (Green Party), Kieran Terry (Conservative)

Noah Vickers is the local democracy reporter for City Hall, based at the Evening Standard. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a BBC-funded scheme to increase council coverage in local media.

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