Luton localsLuton & District's last purchase before takeover by the Cowie group was a batch of ten low-height single-doorway Palatine Is for the Luton local services, principally the 24,25,26 group of Luton-Dunstable routes, and the more local 27. They arrived to Luton garage in May-June 1996, dressed in The Shires' stunning blue, yellow and stone livery, with pale blue sashes and Sapphire Line logos. Simple but effective route branding was carried.
When delivered the buses were numbered ON035-ON039, ON041-ON43, ON45-ON46,
to match the registrations. 40 and 44 were missing due to the DVLA's retained registrations scheme.
The first and last were promptly renumbered to give a continuous batch of ON036 to ON045.
Eight months later they were renumbered into The Shires' new scheme as 5136 - 5145.
The buses moved to the new garage (Luton-Dunstable) in September 2001, but continued doing what they were bought for. 5144 went on loan to Heckmondwike in West Yorkshirefor a week or so in October 2004, and returned to a new home at Wycombe Bus Stn (WB). It was promptly joined there by 5145.
They wandered a bit in their latter days, as they were displaced from their regular duties by newer buses, and they disappeared in 2013-2015.
5141 made an appearance at Showbus in September 2005.
Watford locals and Aylesbury-OxfordFifteen more Olympians were ordered to arrive in August 1998. This time they were Palatine IIs, and they arrived in Arriva's turquoise and champagne livery.
5146 to 5154 were for Watford local services on routes 4 and 5, based at Garston. They had route branding with via points along a pair of orange bars on the tween-deck panels. Two received variant liveries: 5152 received a Colorbus ad, while 5153 was painted overall to celebrate Watford Football Club.
5156 to 5161 went to Aylesbury for the 280, a cross-country trunk route to Oxford. These were similarly branded with a route line.
Service changes in Watford in September 2000 saw the route branding altered,
with the 4/5 branding removed from 5146-5151, 5154. They were subsequently rebranded for the 5/6.
On a very wet April day in 2004 5150 and 5151 passed through Watford Junction on their customary route 5 and 6 duties.Three of the Watford buses (5147, 5148 and 5152) moved to Hemel Hempstead as Watford demands changed. The others remained in service at Watford. 5153, the Watford Football Club bus, had a couple of repaints, but eventually ran out of luck on a private hire near Staines, losing its top completely in Chertsey Lane in August 2005. It languished in Garston for sixteen months before being reroofed in December 2006.
The Aylesbury Olypians were refurbished at Pickering's (Thurmaston) during spring 2004. They emerged in Arriva's new interurban livery - a deeper blue, with cream horn and 280 line branding.