West Midlands bus route 11

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TWM Outer Circle.JPG
OperatorDiscount Travel (Anticlockwise Only)
National Express West Midlands
Social Travel (Clockwise Only)
GarageAcocks Green
StartAcocks Green
EndAcocks Green
Length27 miles (43 km)

West Midlands bus route 11, also known as the Birmingham Outer Circle, is a 27-mile (43 km) route that circumnavigates Birmingham via the A4040 apart from a small deviation via the B4182 and A4030 in Bearwood. It is mainly operated by National Express West Midlands with a few journeys operated by Discount Travel and by Social Travel. It operates in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions as routes 11C and 11A.

The route is operated by National Express West Midlands. Since bus deregulation in 1986, several companies have competed on sections of this route. Falcon Travel, Serverse Travel, Birmingham Motor Traction, AM PM Travel and Joe's Travel have traversed the entire route.


Guide to the 'Outer Circle' route, issued by the "Birmingham Corporation Tramways & Omnibus Department", which operated under that title from 1928 until November 1937

Route 11 was Europe's longest urban bus route after Coventry's route 360 until it was withdrawn in 2016.[1] It first came into existence as two routes in 1923: route 10 ran from King's Heath to the King's Head (Hagley Road) via Cotteridge, and route 11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 West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) on 1 October 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 Olympians entered onto the new service fitted with Wi-Fi technology. AM PM Travel later ceased operating.

In 2012 Joe's Travel began operating on the service using step entrance Dennis Darts, but withdrew its services on 20 May 2014.

In September 2014, GRS Travel began operating the service with two buses on route 11C and two on route 11A.[7][8] However, in July 2015 they ceased operation.

In March 2015, Social Travel commenced operating eight weekday services a day on route 11C.[9][10] In April 2018 this was reduced to just four weekday services a day on route 11C.

In April 2017, Discount Travel commenced operating eight weekday services a day on route 11A.


A full circuit can take up to three hours to complete, with the service carrying 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, six hospitals, and one prison.[11] 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 Free Radio Birmingham Walkathon, a sponsored walk which raises funds for charity.[12]

Route 11 operates with an off-peak weekday frequency in each direction.[13]

Current route[edit]

Route 11 operates via these primary locations (running clockwise):[13]

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.[14]

On 11 November 2008, (starting at 11:00), humourist Jon Bounds spent eleven hours travelling the route, documenting his journey online, using Twitter, Facebook and a blog, elevenbus.co.uk.[15]

In October 2009 Kevin Beresford, a 57-year-old resident of Birmingham, created a calendar dedicated to the anti-clockwise portion of the route.[11]

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 route 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 route has also been the inspiration for a collection of short stories, written by Birmingham-based writers and edited by Jay Barton.[16]


  1. ^ Number 11 loses its crown of Europe's longest route - to Coventry Birmingham Mail 4 June 2013
  2. ^ a b c D.Harvey, M. Hanson and P. Drake Outer Circle - Birmingham's No.11 Bus Route. Tempus, 2003
  3. ^ Bus Rally Calendar - Showbus - BUSES rally calendar 2009
  4. ^ Transport rally axed due to fuel crisis Birmingham Evening Mail
  5. ^ a b Outer Circle bus showcase Centro
  6. ^ AMPM scraps Solihull, targets Tamworth Bus & Coach Professional 10 December 2009
  7. ^ Facebook GRS Travel
  8. ^ GRS Travel Route 11 timetable Network West Midlands 26 October 2014
  9. ^ Weekly service changes Network West Midlands 29 March 2015
  10. ^ Social Travel Route 11 timetable Network West Midlands 30 March 2015
  11. ^ a b Birmingham man creates calendar of number 11 bus route Birmingham Mail 20 October 2009
  12. ^ Free travel for BRMB Walkathon participants National Express West Midlands 6 May 2011
  13. ^ a b National Express West Midlands Route 11 timetable Network West Midlands 12 April 2015
  14. ^ Bus route hits musical note Birmingham Evening Mail 3 December 2001
  15. ^ 11-11-11 Eleven Bus 2008
  16. ^ Outer Circle Project Birmingham Writers' Group