Angry parents are having to pay extra for their children's fares to school after a Midland bus operator sidestepped its commitments to a bus-pass scheme by changing its name.
The 836 route from Minworth to the Arthur Terry School in Four Oaks was operated by People's Express - the West Bromwich-based bus company formerly known as Pete's Travel.
The operator is part of Centro's Busmaster scheme, allowing children free travel per term for £74.
However, without warning the route was changed to Britannia Coaches, an offshoot of the same company, which allowed it to opt out of the Busmaster scheme.
Confusion was compounded by the service still being operated by a distinctive yellow People's Express vehicle, still displaying the 119 number of the route it runs before becoming the 836 at Minworth.
Patricia Craig's 15-year-old daughter Louise boards the bus on Whitehouse Common Road after it passes through Sutton Coldfield town centre. Mrs Craig said: "At the start of this year I paid out £74 for a pass that is not valid.
"I have spoken to the school and to Centro and they have both been very helpful, but nobody can explain why this company is not accepting the passes."
A spokesperson for public transport executive Centro said: "Unfortunately, bus companies can decide not to accept passes and the Busmaster is a voluntary scheme.
"The bus company has told us that it is using the yellow People's Express branded vehicles to run the 836 and it seems that the drivers could be adding to the confusion if they are displaying the wrong route number on the front of the bus.
"If that is the case, it is not surprising that passengers would expect their Busmaster tickets and passes to be valid on the route.
"We have taken up the issue on behalf of local passengers and reminded the operator that they should make it absolutely clear that the 836 service is being run by Britannia Travel, not People's Express."
The Birmingham Post contacted People's Express but nobody was available to comment.
Until earlier this year, People's Express ran about four per cent of bus services in the West Midlands conurbation.
Although that is dwarfed by the nearly 90 per cent of buses run by Travel West Midlands, the company is still the second largest operator in the region.
However, the company, which has admitted to financial difficulties, has withdrawn a number of services with little or no warning to passengers recently.
In September, it was stripped of a third of its services and told it cannot operate any new routes for nine months in a damning judgment by the Traffic Commissioner.
Following public complaints to the West Midlands Traffic Commissioner David Dixon, inspectors found 37 of the 267 services they monitored arrived outside a six-minute "window of tolerance" - one minute before or five minutes after the schedule.
Also, the company has had 33 maintenance notices issued against its vehicles in just two years. A number of other services have been withdrawn by the company recently.