West Midlands bus route 11
11A / 11C
Route 11C seen in Acocks Green Village
|Operator||National Express West Midlands|
|Vehicle||Plaxton President Dennis Dart|
|Predecessors||AM PM Travel, Falcon Travel, Serverse Travel|
|Start||Acocks Green Garage|
|End||Acocks Green Garage|
|Length||27 miles (43 km)|
The Birmingham Outer Circle is a roughly circular, 27 mile (43 km) bus route in Birmingham, England (a small section crosses into Sandwell). It mainly follows the city's outer ring road, the A4040 with some small deviations to serve some rail stations and shopping areas. Buses on the Outer Circle are numbered 11C on the clockwise journey and 11A on the anticlockwise journey. Buses are numbered 11E for journeys terminating at various points on the route; these include Acocks Green, Perry Barr and City Hospital.
The route is operated by National Express West Midlands, usually with Volvo B7TL/Plaxton double-decker buses. Following bus deregulation in 1986 several companies have competed on sections of this route. Falcon Travel, Serverse Travel, Birmingham Motor Traction, AM PM Travel and Joes Travel have traversed the entire route.
The number 11 is Europe's second longest urban bus route (after Coventry route 360) and first came into existence as two routes in 1923: the no.10 ran from King's Heath to the King's Head (Hagley Road) via Cotteridge, and the no.11 from Six ways Erdington to Acocks Green and Moseley. The route was first operated as a complete circuit on 26 April 1926, the idea being to better link the suburbs of Birmingham, as most routes at that time travelled in and out of the city 
The route was operated by Birmingham City Transport until the formation of WMPTE in 1969. In 1986 WMPTE's bus operations were taken over by West Midlands Travel who now operate as National Express West Midlands.
The route is traversed annually by a cavalcade of vintage buses. Run by the Aston Manor Road Transport Museum, the event began in 1977 and has continued each year since with the exception of 2000, in which it was cancelled due to a national fuel shortage.
AM PM Travel began operating on the service in October 2009, increasing the frequency of their route in December. Six re-furbished Volvo Olympian buses have been entered onto the new service fitted with Wi-Fi technology. AM PM Travel have since become bankrupt and no longer operate on the route.
In 2012 Joe's Travel began operating on the service using step entrance Dennis Darts, but withdrew its services on 20th May 2014.
A full circuit takes 2–3hrs to complete, depending on traffic conditions, and the service carries 50,000 passengers each day. There are 266 bus stops on the route. The route serves 233 schools, colleges or universities, 69 leisure and community facilities, 40 pubs, 19 retail centres, 6 hospitals, and one prison. It also links some 15 commercial centres, and passes Cadbury's in Bournville, one of the world's largest chocolate factories.
On weekdays service 11A runs every 8 minutes and the 11C every 8 minutes, with lower frequencies in the evenings and at weekends. The Plaxton Presidents are only being used on the Outer Circle as they do not meet Birmingham City Centre Emission Standards and thus cannot be used on City Centre routes anymore. It is not known if they will be replaced with brand new buses in the future or with vehicles currently in the fleet. The Outer Circle had its own batch of branded Geminis that were new for the route, until recently. They are now debranded and working a variety of routes into Birmingham City Centre.
(Clockwise from the A34, in the north of the city.)
- Perry Barr
- Witton (for Aston Villa)
- Erdington (for connections to Sutton Coldfield)
- Ward End
- Swan Shopping Centre at South Yardley, where the route crosses the A45 road from Birmingham to the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport
- Acocks Green (passing Acocks Green Bus Garage)
- Hall Green (for Sarehole Mill)
- Billesley (outskirts)
- Kings Heath
- Bournville (for Cadbury World)
- Selly Oak (for University of Birmingham and Selly Oak Hospital)
- Bearwood (in Sandwell)
- Winson Green (for Winson Green Prison and Winson Green Outer Circle stop on the Midland Metro)
In popular culture
The Birmingham band Woodbine's eponymous 1999 album features the track "Outer Circle", a tribute to the bus route. In 2001 a group of musicians from Birmingham created a concert based on the route.
In October 2009 Kevin Beresford, a 57-year old resident of Birmingham, created a calendar dedicated to the anti-clockwise portion of the route.
The Outer Circle has also been the inspiration for a Scottish Country Dance. Devised by Kenneth Reid from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society’s Birmingham Branch, it is regularly featured on dance programmes all over the world. The 48 bar reel represents the circuit of the No 11, with the diagonal corner chain formations inside, and the travelling couple outside of the set highlighting the fluctuation speed and congestion within the route.
The bus has also been the inspiration for a collection of short stories, written by Birmingham-based writers and edited by Jay Barton.
- Coventry bus route is longest in Europe at 31 miles
- D.Harvey, M. Hanson and P. Drake Outer Circle - Birmingham's No.11 Bus Route". Tempus, 2003
- Bus Rally Calendar - Showbus - BUSES rally calendar 2009
- Transport rally axed due to fuel crisis - Birmingham Evening Mail | Highbeam.com
- Outer Circle bus showcase - Centro - Case studies
- AMPM scraps Solihull, targets Tamworth :: Bus & Coach Magazine
- Birmingham man creates calendar of number 11 bus route - Birmingham Mail
- Free travel for BRMB Walkathon participants National Express West Midlands, 6 May 2011
- Bus route hits musical note - Birmingham Evening Mail | Highbeam research
- Room 101 (a Guests and Air Dates Guide) - epguides.com
- Bounds, Jon; et al (2008). "11-11-11". Retrieved 2009-08-12.
- Outer Circle Project Birmingham Writers' Group. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- National Express West Midlands
- Network West Midlands area bus maps
- 11-11-11 An art project encouraging people to spend 11 hours on the bus on 11/11
- 11A on FixMyTransport
- 11C on FixMyTransport