Bus fares on routes in Epping Forest could rise by 15 per cent over three years.

Essex County Council is currently consulting on proposals which could see prices increase by five per cent a year until 2019.

Routes which would be affected include the 47 and 147 between Ongar and Harlow, and the 240, 250 and 251, all travelling from Debden to Waltham Abbey and back to Loughton.

The 212 - between Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross - and the 213 between St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping and Waltham Cross would also be affected.

Bus operator Regal is paid a council subsidy to run the routes.

The council said the consultation is not about a reduction in services, and said concessionary bus passes would not be affected.

The consultation is to “understand the impact” of a fare rise on passengers, it said.

It claims fares on non-commercial routes have not increased for six years and “are out of step with commercial bus operators’ fares by 25 per cent”.

It added: “Essex County Council has a duty to make best use of taxpayers’ money so cannot maintain large subsidies on these bus fares.

“By bringing the fares in line with commercial services, it will help to safeguard the services in the future.”

The council is trying to save £1million every week for the next four years, after a reduction in central government funding.

The consultation runs until June 17 and the result will be announced in August.

To take part, visit http://surveys.essexinsight.org.uk/TakeSurvey.aspx?PageNumber=1&SurveyID=mlKK3om0&Preview=true or phone 03457 430 430.