Friday, 17 December 2010

What is a Circle?

Or, more significantly, what is a "circular" bus?
Now THAT would be a spherical bus!   If fact the "Outspan" Orange car was built on a mini chassis and was limited to 30mph - above which speed it would, literally, roll over.   Constructed in 1972, this juicy vehicle now resides at the Beaulieu Motor Museum; except when, as here, it is squeezed into use at a rally - where it might pip other vehicles at the post!  [Zesty groan!].

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a circle as:- "a perfectly plane figure whose circumference is everywhere equidistant from its centre, or, loosely, a closed loop."

Truly circular bus services (even if the circle is less than perfect) are rare beasts indeed.   Buses on both the inner and outer circle routes in Birmingham keep on circling and, in the past, the oft-quoted Sheffield had its inner and outer circles (the 8,9 and 2,3 respectively) - alas lost and gone for ever.   Another historical circle was the Island Explorer route of Southern Vectis - start from anywhere on the route, break your journey a couple of times, and keep going till you get back after four hours of bus travel later.
[The present replacement for the inner circle in Sheffield, by the way, (10, 10A) might appear to circle from the route description, but when the bus reaches Manor Park, it turns round and goes back the other way.]

The 11C ("C" for clockwise) in Birmingham.

Perhaps it would be acceptable to class a bus route as "circular" if it starts from A, visits B, C and D in a sort of loop and returns to A - even if it does not normally keep going.   At least potential customers would be warned that it may not be the most direct way from A to C!

So what, pray, is a bus route labelled "Circle"?

Derby had "Browning Circle" as a destination.

but, sadly, that "circle" is a sort of roundabout on a Derby Estate.

But what would you make of some of these Sheffield "Circles"?
Although the route descriptions doesn't say so, this route is almost a real "Circular" which returns from Handsworth to Sheffield. It is actually a "lollipop" shape, but the "stick" of the lollipop is on roads where the bus runs non-stop, so, "Circular" it is, just about!
The 47 is also a lollipop with a big blob at one end.   But most of its route is the same out and back - so it hardly counts as a circular.

The 73, on the other hand, only has a little blob at the Ecclesfield end of the lollyand is most definitely NOT a circular by any normal (non South Yorkshire) definition.
Now, the 45 is a mystery. Looking very hard at the route, there is no sign of a circle, a blob or a loop. Maybe a figment of SYT's fervid imagination. But the dream will end early in 2011 (possibly?) when the 45 is withdrawn after a very short life!

Of course there is another, more serious, problem with the 45 as listed in the January changes leaflet (above).  It doesn't go to Firth Park!   Whoops!   Anyway, back to the circles.

Now perhaps here we have another definition of circle (SYT-style). The 32 runs from Sheffield to Rotherham but via a very roundabout route; travelling round two sides of the right angled triangle rather than along the hypotenuse.   Or do they mean "circuitous"?   Now there's a thought.   OR, maybe the use of "circle" is simply mean to imply some sort of loop at one or both ends.   In that case most routes that terminate in Sheffield, should be designated "circle" as they are virtually forced by the road system to perform some sort of gyratory journey.

So, what is a circle?   However you understand the word - PLEASE don't ask South Yorkshire Travel. They do not understand the concept!

P.S. Even the Circle Line on London's Underground no longer circles! 

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