FirstBus back in 1997 ordered a batch of Volvo Olympian double deck chassis with Alexander Royale bodywork, with new First interiors and in Leeds City Link livery. 5606-5621 arrived during late October to November 1997 and brought in a new style of vehicle to the FirstBus operation, the first batch were the only new buses to be painted into the Leeds City Link livery. 5622-5629 soon followed and were placed into service in Bradford, these vehicles arrived in the First Corporate 'Willow leaf' livery. Upon arrival of 5622-29 First started the gold service and sovereign branding for the X6 Leeds-Bradford-Huddersfield interurban express route. This offered passengers with cleaner buses, customer service trained drivers and a promise of punctual service.
Six more Volvo Olympian/Royales arrived in Leeds as numbers 5630-5635, again in the 'Willow leaf' livery. Halifax then got a batch of these fine machines delivered as numbers 5636-5645, these one like Bradford's 5622-9 were used on a gold service for the 508 and later other routes. By this time the Leeds City Link liveried 5606-21 were undergoing a re-paint into the 'Willow leaf' livery. Bradford were going to get the next batch of Royale's, but these were quickly exchanged for new Volvo B10BLE saloons. Bradford did get some as 5644-5653, as the others were transferred across to Manchester, with booked S-NUG plates. However two more batch's of six Royals arrived in Leeds 5654-5659 and Halifax 5660-5665 in 1988, almost 60 Olympian/Royale's in service.
The picture stayed the same until around 2008, when buses were cascaded around the First group, with Huddersfield gaining its first Royale's. Some of the Manchester Royals found their way over to Leeds including 30224 S660NUG, which had the East Lancashire roof after the original was damaged in an accident. As 2014 arrived the last few examples in Huddersfield were still being used on frontline service, but examples in Bradford and Halifax soon found there way onto the schools only diagrams.
As you read this in September 2014 or later the Royale's would been replaced by the new 'Mirco-Hybrid' Streetlite saloons arriving in Huddersfield. No doubt the Royales may stay on as schools transport, but they will become a part of the West Yorkshire Transport history. All is not lost as Bramley depot in Leeds still have 30970 (R610JUB) running around in Leeds, in the new First Livery. This bus had a new gearbox fitted pending future use, since the re-paint 30970 has been a regular on the 4, 16, 50, 50A and 86 services in Leeds.
Here are my personal views on bus activity in my area and beyond