West Midlands bus route 11

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11A / 11C
TWM Outer Circle.JPG
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
Via A4040
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[1]) 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 [2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

The route was upgraded in 2004 by Centro. Over £25 million was spent on CCTV coverage, bus priority measures, new shelters with electronic information displays and new low-floor buses.[5]

AM PM Travel began operating on the service in October 2009, increasing the frequency of their route in December.[6] 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.[2] There are 266 bus stops on the route.[5] The route serves 233 schools, colleges or universities, 69 leisure and community facilities, 40 pubs, 19 retail centres, 6 hospitals, and one prison.[7] It also links some 15 commercial centres, and passes Cadbury's in Bournville, one of the world's largest chocolate factories.

The outer circle is the traditional route for the BRMB Walkathon, a sponsored walk which raises funds for charity.[8]

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.

Current route[edit]

(Clockwise from the A34, in the north of the city.)

In popular culture[edit]

The Birmingham band Woodbine's eponymous 1999 album features the track "Outer Circle", a tribute to the bus route.[2] In 2001 a group of musicians from Birmingham created a concert based on the route.[9]

Comedian Frank Skinner wanted to add this bus route to BBC Radio 5 Room 101 (radio series) when he appeared on the show's August 27 1993 edition.[10]

On 11 November 2008 (starting at 11am), humourist Jon Bounds spent eleven hours travelling the route, documenting his journey online, using Twitter, Facebook and a blog, elevenbus.co.uk.[11]

In October 2009 Kevin Beresford, a 57-year old resident of Birmingham, created a calendar dedicated to the anti-clockwise portion of the route.[7]

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.[12]


External links[edit]