If any of my readers are familiar with the 11 “outer circle” bus route, I’m sure you have all experienced cramped bus rides and overly long wait times on your daily commute. Such was the day when I got onto my usual bus and found crowds of people standing right down to the end of the walkway, packed like sardines in this semblance of functional public transport. I’m sure there’s at least one of you that has a similar story, whether it be waiting endlessly for the bus you need (whilst three always seem to be going the way you are not), or simply the discomfort of being shoved next to stranger that has most likely not felt a bar of soap in several months.
The route is rather infamous for, once, being the longest bus route in Europe, spanning an impressive 26 miles across the outer circle and taking around 3 hours to complete the full circuit. Predominantly operated by National Express West Midlands, the bus goes in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, with the 11C and 11A buses traversing the route respectively. Since July 2021, however, the service was split, with buses terminating halfway through the route, and switching from clockwise to anticlockwise and vice versa.
Such a fascinating route has spawned various real life pop culture around it. For example, the Birmingham band Woodbine’s 1999 album features the track “Outer Circle”, a tribute to the bus route. The route has also been the inspiration for a collection of short stories, several songs and even a Scottish Country Dance (see references for more info). I like to think these people used their insane bus wait times to come up with these. If this reporter happens to come across a sudden burst of inspiration, keep your eyes out for the next hit single made just down your road.
Not so begrudging Chief reporter Millie Butcher, Lower Seniors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Midlands_bus_route_11 https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/legendary-number-11-bus-route- 20946551