Pupils are being left stranded if they have only cash, but no bus pass, to take the Bowland High School bus.
Their worried parents have been told that pupils with passes – either free or paid-for – must take priority on the special service to the high school at Grindleton.
Single mum Samantha Brunker (45) of Kirkmoor Close, Clitheroe, says her daughter Charlie (13) was given the last seat on the bus by a teacher, leaving three pupils still waiting.
Now she is worried she may not get a seat at all, either travelling to or from the school.
“I can’t afford the monthly payments for an annual bus pass, so Charlie pays £3.55 a day cash,” said Samantha, a part-time shop assistant.
“When she got the last seat the other day, she came home upset and said ‘What will I do if I can’t get on the bus?’
“There are other parents like me, and it’s worrying for them. I contacted the county council but they just said they don’t have the money to do anything with the service.”
Bowland head Mr John Tarbox said: “I have a great deal of sympathy for the parents involved, and we are doing our best to represent them.
“Some people in certain villages seem to be disadvantaged under new regulations.
“We are speaking to the County Council’s Safe Travel people about cases we know about, and I would ask parents to contact the County Council directly and make them aware of the problems.”
Andrew Varley, Lancashire County Council’s public transport manager, said:“We have a legal responsibility to provide transport for some of the pupils at Bowland High School, with a guaranteed seat on the bus. These pupils have travel passes for the bus.
“Where there are seats available, students who do not have a legal entitlement to free home to school transport can buy a season ticket.
“If there are still spaces available other pupils can pay on board.
“Unfortunately this isn’t always possible on busier buses. We’ve been working to resolve this issue and have been able to get a bigger bus for the 686 route from Clitheroe to the school. While this won’t guarantee a space for pupils who choose to pay on the bus, it should help improve the situation.
“We are still looking into this matter but, due to the current financial situation facing the County Council, we’re unable to subsidise the cost of extra school buses for pupils who are not entitled to free transport.”