STUDENTS travelling by bus from Bulla to Sunbury could be forced to look for other transport to get to school.
As part of a review, Public Transport Victoria has recommended that the only school bus service between the two towns be terminated from the start of next year because of declining patronage.
It has also recommended that the number of bus services from Diggers Rest to Sunbury be reduced from three to two. The changes are the preferred options outlined in the review.
Another option suggested is to terminate all three services from Diggers Rest. Students would then have to use trains.
Apart from the students, at least one bus company - Rockleigh Tours - will be affected if the changes are made.
Rockleigh Tours' owner, Laurie Pincini, said that if the recommendations were accepted, his company - the last one to sign a contract with the state government - would no longer run buses on school routes in Sunbury.
Its existing services from Riddells Creek and Diggers Rest to Sunbury would be taken over by other bus companies.
"It's a kick in the guts," he said. "We've been running school bus services for 40 years.
"We were expecting that we may lose one service, but not two."
He said he might have to put off five staff members.
Mr Pincini said the changes would have long-term effects across Sunbury.
"At the moment, as there are seats available, non-government school students are using the buses.
"If there are more government school students using the buses, they [non-government students] will be kicked off. There's already a waiting list."
Mr Pincini said parents in Bulla would be the worst affected.
"Cuts to the Bulla service will mean students will have to catch the public bus to the Sunbury bus terminal. On the current timetable, they would miss the connecting bus and be late for school."
Sunbury Secondary College vice-principal Margaret Bates, who is bus co-ordinator for Sunbury, said it was too early to comment on the review.
A PTV spokeswoman said a final decision was yet to be made on school bus services in Sunbury.
"School bus reviews need to be undertaken regularly because student numbers change each year.
"Where student numbers have reduced, routes may be altered so that fewer buses can be used to transport eligible students.
"In Sunbury, the free school bus network is now being reviewed and draft recommendations have been provided to local bus operators and schools for feedback.
"No final decisions will be made until the review process is complete and all feedback has been taken into consideration."