IT’S been one of parents’ biggest bugbears for decades.

Now a bus company is considering scrapping the rule that means youngsters are forced to pay adult fares on their way to school.

Wilts & Dorset does not allow child fares to be issued before 9am Monday to Friday, except in August when schools are closed.

The policy has been criticised by parents who have accused bosses of cashing in on children at times when they have no choice but to use the buses.

Now, for the first time since 1973, the company is inviting comments on its charging policy and is considering making changes, possibly as early as next month.

Parent Euan Douglas from Colehill told the Daily Echo he was shocked when his 10-year-old daughter, Sia, was charged £2.80 to get to school and back.

“She said they would not give her a child fare so I assumed they had made a mistake and contacted the company” said Mr Douglas.

“I was shocked to discover that this is policy. It has been designed to get as much money as they can but it is ridiculous that a child is not a child until 9am.

“Children would be late for school if they waited until they could get reduced fares. This is terrible when the government is trying to encourage people to use public transport.”

Wilts & Dorset public relations manager Chris Harris said the company is inviting comments via its Facebook page.

He said: “Since June 1973 full adult fare has been charged for all journeys before 9am on Mondays to Fridays because of the high number of people travelling at that time.

“However, we are currently examining our fare policy with a view to making child fares available at all times. Improvements are likely to come on stream during February 2010.”

Comments posted on Facebook so far favour child fares all day every day and the age limit for child tickets to be raised from 14 to 18.

Yellow Buses said under-14s can get child fares before 9am, and so can under-18s, if they present a CitizenCard.

Child fares are valid all day but not issued after 10pm.