Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 20th January 2023. Best on 800*600.

Arriva The Shires low-floor DAF SB250/ALX400s

Part One: The Original Garston buses: 6000-6024

6008 at Willesden Junction, April 2004 6008 at Willesden Junction, April 2004
6008 at Watford Junction on a 142 to Brent Cross, April 2004

ATS DLA In January 2003 Arriva the Shires renewed its contract with Transport for London to operate the Garston routes 142 and 340, with new low-floor DAF SB250s with Alexander ALX400 bodies, replacing Volvo Olympians. The new contract specified not only low-floor buses, but that they should be red, to make clear that these were TfL buses, accepting London Travelcards and passes. They were to be the shorter 10.2m long buses, with full 4.39m high bodies to provide plenty of head-room. This was TfL's choice, like those in Arriva London's second purchase of DLAs.

Livery was London red, with a yellow coach line above the red skirt, and a cream/white horn from above the windscreen. There were minor differences from the Arriva London buses.

The run-out on the 142 was a maximum on 16 on Saturdays (15 during the week and 13 on Sundays). The 340 needed 7 on Mon-Sat and 4 on Sundays at first, soon increased by 2 on weekdays.

For this the initial allocation was 25, numbered 6000-6024, but these were joined in October 2014 by the last of the breed, numbered 6025. This allocation was obviously too tight, and Garston began to beg, borrow or gratefully receive DLAs from Arriva London to eke out the numbers. (But more of that on the following page).

GarageRoute noRoute
GR Garston142 Watford Junction Stn - Watford High Street - Bushey - Stanmore - Edgware - Burnt Oak - Hendon - Brent Cross
GR Garston340Edgware Stn - Canons Park - Stanmore Church - Harrow Weald - Harrow & Wealdstone - Harrow Bus Stn

The takeover by Garston of route 258 (Watford Junction - Watford - Bushey Heath - Harrow Weald - Harrow & Wealdstone - Harrow - South Harrow) in February 2006 required new buses. These were Wright-bodied DAF DWs, but the Alexanders were seen on it occasionally. Route 303 (Edgware Stn - Mill Hill Bdy - Colindale), from Garston from September 2006, required single-decker Cadets, but the Alexanders appeared here occasionally too. Then there was school route 640 to South Harrow.

6013 on 142, Watford Junc, April 2004 6016 on 340, April 2004

6013 at Watford Junction on a 142 to Brent Cross, April 2004, and 6016 heading north towards Edgware on the 340, the same day.

Restructuring: Oldest buses go to the country area: 6000-6013

ATS DLA This continued as a stable set-up, with some of them being repainted all-red, through to 2013, when a renewed contract on the 142 required replacement of 6000-6013 by slightly younger Volvo Alexanders from Arriva London South. The younger DAF Alexanders, 6014-6025, continued in service from Garston, on the 340, and the 142 et al as well.

The older buses went during 2013 for a transformation at Blackburn, where they were converted to single doorways, with digital screens at front, side and rear, and the current Arriva interurban livery of two shades of blue with an orange cheat line. They also had cream horns.

They did not return to operation at Garston, although several had to have chassis defects remedied before dispersal. Nine of them settled at Aylesbury, one (6001)at Hemel Hempstead, four at Ware (6005/6/7/11).


The Aylesbury contingent were used on an amazing variety of routes, embracing both local country routes and much longer trunk routes. For a bus designed to trundle around London at a top speed of 30mph and an average of 10mph they seemed to adjust well to the long rural routes. Had they been regeared? They made only rare appearances on the Aylesbury Red 8 and Blue 7 very local shorts. They were not supposed to work the 280 to Oxford, which was the job of the Sapphire-liveried E400s, but they frequently did.

The switch to Arriva Midlands management in January made little immediate impact on these buses. They mostly lasted until July 2018, when most of them were displaced by new E400s and went instead to High Wycombe.

GarageRoute noRoute
AY Aylesbury280 Aylesbury - Thame - Oxford Rail Station
AY Aylesbury300 Aylesbury - Wendover - Amersham - High Wycombe
AY Aylesbury500 Aylesbury - Tring - Berkhamstead - Hemel Hempstead - Watford
AY Aylesbury150 Aylesbury - Milton Keynes
AY Aylesbury16 Aylesbury - Steeple Claydon
AY Aylesbury50 Aylesbury - RAF Halton Camp
AY Aylesbury60, X60 Aylesbury - Milton Keynes - Maids Moreton
AY Aylesbury61 Aylesbury - Dunstable
AY Aylesbury70 Aylesbury - Luton Interchange


Ware received refurbished 6005/6/7/11 for use on the 310, replacing the single-deckers. Their main purpose was the 310, but they also worked Hertford local route 395 when their size was needed, and journeys on the 331. 6009 from Aylesbury joined them in 2014.

They mainly stayed there until displaced by new Enviro200 double-deckers in 2016. By now (since January 2016) Ware was part of Arriva Southern Counties. 6006 moved south to Arriva Kent and Sussex at Tunbridge Wells. ASC moved the others south in late 2016/early 2017 to Northfleet (6007, 6011), where they were unwelcome, and to the New Enterprise coaching unit at Tonbridge (6005, 6009).

GarageRoute noRoute
WE Ware310 Hertford - Ware - Hoddesdon - Broxbourne - Wormley - Cheshunt - Waltham Cross
WE Ware395 Sele Farm Estate - Hertford - Ware - Fanham Common
WE Ware331 Hertford - Ware - Standon

Hemel Hempstead

Hemel Hempstead did not welcome 6001, where it was to work alongside ex-London 6236 which had been similarly refurbished. Both were considered slow and unreliable, and were confined in 2013 to local routes within easy reach of the garage. When refurbished 6274 was added to the Hemel Hempstead allocation it languished unused at the depot until October 2014. 6001 was transferred to Ware in January 2015, then Maidstone in September 2016.

Garston: 6014-6025, latterly DLA614-625

ATS DLA The red buses remaining at Garston continued much as before, alongside Volvo/Alexander VLAs draughted in from London. As well as the 142 and 340, the DAFs appeared on Cadet routes such as the Harrow Circular H18/H19, the Queensbury-Broadfields 288 and the Edgware-Kingsbury 305. The buses mostly received all-red repaints.

In January 2016 Arriva, in one of its less-inspired management shake-ups, decreed that all Transport for London operations should be under the control of Arriva London. So the TfL operations at Garston changed official operators - in the process making Garston unsustainable. 6014-6025 were renumbered as DLA614 - DLA625 (The imported DLAs reverted to their old numbers).

July 2016 saw them replaced by newer buses, the SW class of Wright Streetdecks. The DLAs were dispatched, some to Edmonton for railway work, DLA23 to Dartford (also Arriva London now).

November 2016 saw most of them converted to trainers. The trainers continued to wear red livery, with trainer "blinds" at the front. Most were based at Norwood, with a couple at Dartford. A few did not make the grade, and went for scrap. Their protracted decline was not helped in August 2021 when vandals took over the outstation at Beddington Farm and comprehensively trashed three of them. The Covid pandemic prolonged their use as trainers, any more modern serviceable double-deckers being needed to supplement services in order to reduce crowding.

The last five still with Arriva London went to the scrapman in July 2022, a creditable nineteen years old. 6000, from High Wycombe, followed in September 2022. It may be that the well-loved pair at Tunbridge Wells (6005,7) are still there.

Part2: imports from Arriva London. Arriva Southern Counties.

Bus Stop London DLAs. AtS part1. part2. histories. photo refs.