Benefits of faster night buses ‘not clear’, says mayor

A Lib Dem member of the London Assembly has proposed running a version of the new express ‘Superloop’ service at night, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Tower Bridge at night and (inset) a Superloop bus
Tower Bridge at night and (inset) a Superloop bus

Sadiq Khan should introduce a ‘night Superloop’ service to better connect the capital’s suburbs, a City Hall politician has said.

Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat on the London Assembly, said that a nighttime version of the express bus network would boost the capital’s nightlife and be useful for late shift workers.

But the mayor’s office has confirmed there are no plans for such a service, arguing that its benefits “are not clear” compared with existing night bus routes.

The Superloop, which upgrades some existing express routes and adds new services, was announced by Khan in March, in order to provide a further alternative to car travel ahead of his expansion to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez).

It mainly comprises an ‘orbit’ of routes which form a vast ring through outer London. This main part of the network is due for completion by the spring of next year.

But in a written question to the mayor, Pidgeon suggested that the buses should also operate at night.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Having decent transport options at night is important for nightlife and the night-time economy as a whole and shift workers. It also has a direct impact on women’s safety and their confidence to go out late at night.

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“It is going to be very difficult to persuade groups of people like shift workers to give up their cars and move to public transport if the options simply don’t exist where they live.”

Responding to Pidgeon, Khan’s office said: “Around 73% of Superloop stops are served by night services, and 95% of Superloop stops are within 800 metres of a stop served by a night route.

“In addition, 24 night routes used by five million people per year run parallel to Superloop routes for at least some of their route.

“Demand on the night bus network is much lower than day usage and traffic conditions are quicker. This means existing ‘all-stopping’ night bus services provide sufficient capacity and are generally quicker than day routes.

“The benefits of running express buses at night are not clear and therefore have not been proposed at this time.”

They added: “All existing and new Superloop routes will be monitored by Transport for London (TfL) to get a comprehensive understanding of how customers are using this new network. From there, TfL will review possible next steps.”

Pidgeon said she “will continue to press the mayor on improving the public transport options available at night”.

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