diamond geezer

 Friday, December 29, 2023

On bus shelters across London TfL are keenly advertising the Superloop. The poster shows a bus, a rainbow burst of pastel colours and the legend The Superloop Is Coming. The given date is Spring 2024 and it's described as a commitment by the Mayor to improve public transport in outer London. Fair enough.

It's just that these posters are appearing willy-nilly across the capital regardless of whether or not the Superloop is coming anywhere nearby. I've seen them all over. I've seen them on shelters in Finchley, which was fine, but also in Alperton, Wandsworth, Enfield and Orpington, none of which are especially close to a Superloop route. The most ridiculous location I've seen one is in this bus shelter on the outskirts of Hornchurch.



Hornchurch is in Havering, which is infamously the only London borough the Superloop's going nowhere near. "All this bloody ULEZ," say its vehicle-owning residents, "and you can't even give us one of your express buses." This particular poster is located over five miles from the nearest Superloop bus stop, and that'll be in Thamesmead which is on entirely the wrong side of the Thames. The nearest practical Superloop stop will be at Barking station, six miles distant, requiring a ride on two slowcoach buses (or the District line). Whoever chose to put this poster on a Hornchurch bus stop had no common sense, nor any political nous.

So I wondered where in London will be the furthest from any Superloop route. For this I needed a map, only of course there isn't a proper Superloop map, only a crappy circular diagram of minimal practical use. So I had to make my own.



This is only approximate but you get the idea. The actual loop of seven consecutive bus routes is the red line, which as you can see isn't quite a loop. The other three routes, which have been branded Superloop despite being radial, are in a less prominent orange colour. Of this trio only one is properly super, the SL8 out to Uxbridge, while the SL6 to Croydon is one-way/peak hours/weekdays only and the SL4 can't start its questionable stubby trek until the Silvertown Tunnel is open.

If you only consider the red circuit, the furthest spot from the Superloop loop is somewhere around Vauxhall bus station - eight miles distant.
If you add in the SL8 as being genuinely useful, the central cold spot shifts east to the Tower of London - six miles from the Superloop.
And if you consider all ten routes... hang on, we're going to need a better map.

So I've made a better map (using Google Maps) and my Superloop map is here. It shows all ten routes in different colours, though not the individual stops because I only cobbled it together in half an hour. It won't be 100% correct because I might have followed the wrong roads in some places, plus some of the roads are different in different directions, plus some of the routes vary according to traffic conditions. But it is quite possibly the best map of the Superloop network you'll yet have seen, highlighting how astonishingly blasé and lazy TfL are about producing useful bus maps.

In inner London, north of the river, the point furthest from the Superloop is near Archway station (3 miles)
In inner London, south of the river, the point furthest from the Superloop is near Southfields station (4 miles)

In north London the suburb furthest from the Superloop is Bullsmoor, just south of Waltham Cross (5 miles)
In west London the suburb furthest from the Superloop is Northwood, near Mount Vernon Hospital (5 miles)
In south London the suburb furthest from the Superloop is Biggin Hill (6 miles)
In east London the suburb furthest from the Superloop is Upminster (7½ miles) or maybe Cranham (8½ miles)

Technically the furthest bus stop from the Superloop is in the easternmost village of North Ockendon, a full nine miles from the Superloop at Barking station. But that stop doesn't have a bus shelter, so at least The Thoughtless Team That Assigns TfL Posters can't paste a pointless Superloop advert there. As the Superloop hype escalates in 2024, remember that some parts of the capital really are a very long way away, indeed far from Super.


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