Arriva The Shires Tridents
Dennis Tridents for Luton: 5421-5429, 5431-5433Twelve single doorway long Dennis Tridents with 4.2m-high ALX400 bodywork were delivered in May and June 2000, in good time to start work from Luton garage on route 38 (Luton - Dunstable).
In September 2001 a new garage replaced both Luton and Dunstable garages, and was called Luton-Dunstable. All the Tridents moved there, to continue on the 38. There they stayed until the autumn of 2005, when the 38 received new single-decker Scania/Wrightbus Solars. 5422 went off to Aylesbury, 5422 and 5432 to the new garage at High Wycombe (Cressex), and the other nine to Ware to further the displacement of Olympians from the 310, 311 and 395, joining the Tridents from Southend (see below).
Sunday connections at Hertford Bus Station: 5424 on the 311 to Waltham Cross, 5427 on the local 395 (Ware-Herford)
Dennis Tridents for Southend: 5434-5439, 5441-5443, 5445-5449, 5451At the same time that Luton received theirs, Arriva Southend received fifteen identical Tridents for Southend routes 7 and 8. These too were slightly low, at 4.2m, and long (10.5m), with H51/31F single doorway ALX400 bodywork. They too were downseated to H47/31F before entering service, presumably to avoid congestion around the stairwell upstairs.
They stayed at Southend until 2004/5, when six of them were sent to Ware to replace ex-London Olympians on the 310/311. The changeover was in dribs and drabs, between September 2004 and May 2005. The rest, I believe, went to Arriva Kent & Sussex (if that was its name then) at Maidstone, where they spent many more years roving over Kent and East Sussex.
Ex Southend 5445 on the 311 to Enfield Town, alongside the New River just south of Ware, 5th June 2005.
The Hertfordshire fleetThe 310/311 at Ware settled down with the assembled Tridents, just one Olympian retained to make up the complement. Until October 2006 the 310 continued its traditional through journeys to Enfield, but from then was cut back to Waltham Cross.
In early 2006 Aylesbury assembled four Tridents (5422, 5432 from Cressex, 5421 from Garston, 5431 already there) to double-deck the X15 (Aylesbury - Milton Keynes). This involved a slight diversion to avoid a tight bridge at Linslade. In about September DAF single-deckers, (ex-724) were allocated to the X15 instead (under the bridge), and the Tridents went onto route 500. (Aylesbury - Luton - Watford). Those on the 500 were then given "line five hundred" branding in October 2006. They were repainted in August 2009, then given much more prominent 500 branding, with the "500" in an orange disc. One, 5421, was moved to Hemel Hempstead in February 2011, presumably to cut dead mileage on the 500, but in Hemel fashion was soon seen on other routes.
The Ware Tridents were repainted into interurban blue/blue, mainly during 2010, and were given 310 branding at the end of 2010. However, in August 2011 they were largely displaced from the 310/311 by new single-deckers, a few remaining at Ware to work the 395 and 396 (Ware-Hertford), with occasinal forays on otherwise single-decker 331 (Hertford - Royston). The rest, after helping out on Chiltern Railways briefly, went to Aylesbury or Luton-Dunstable for use on local services. Some of those sent to Aylesbury were displaced again at the end of 2012, back to Luton-Dunstable. The few remaining at Ware also dribbled towards Luton late in 2013, the last arriving in January 2014, bringing together all seventeen survivors of the type.
The Luton-Dunstable fleet soldiered on, mostly on uneventful local duties. 5425, that had worn a green livery with Plusbus advertising while at Ware, lost its ads, and then startled the world by re-appearing in overall pink with "we love Luton" vinyls. 5431, ex Aylesbury, lost its radio 96.2FM ads more prosaically for interurban blues.
Arriva MidlandsFrom January 2016 management of Arriva the Shires was divided up between Arriva London, Arriva Southern Counties and Arriva Midlands. Luton-Dunstable, Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Milton Keynes were with Arriva Midlands. The Luton seventeen stayed put, with no change in fleetnames or livery.
The end of 2016 DID make a change. By the end of the year buses used in public service had to comply with the Disability Discrimination act, in such matters as displays, colours of handrails, positions of bell-presses and access to wheelchair space. Twelve of the Tridents were dealt with before (or after) the turn of the year. Four did not make the cut, and were sold to Hardwick's, for further sale. (Where did 5224 go?).
During 2017-20 The Tridents soldiered on, in typical AtS fashion - with Arriva, if the wheels go round it is used. A few fell by the wayside: 5421 de-roofed, 5426 withdrawn, 5443 cannibalised, 5446 fire-damaged, 5447 withdrawn. The other seven were still in operation as I write this. None caught COVID-19 that I know of.