Bus users already facing reduced timetables and smaller vehicles will have to pay more for the service.

Yesterday (August 11), Essex County Council confirmed a fare increase of 15 per cent over three years on 12 Epping Forest buses.

Of those services, 11 could see cuts as part of a consultation launched last Thursday, including having fewer stops or being completely withdrawn.  

Public transport campaigner Dave Plummer, from Waltham Abbey, said the council’s decision to charge more for a potentially reduced service is “ironic”.

He said: “The county and district councils need to look at the money they spend on roads and redirect it to bus services instead.

“It's essential to get people to work, education and healthcare, and to reduce social exclusion.

“Good bus services boost local economies and should be seen as an investment, not a financial burden, for local authorities.”

He added: “They seem to look at public transport as way down the bottom of the list…. there just doesn’t seem to be money towards it.

“People need to get to work and everybody can’t be expected to drive.”

Out of the 11 services becoming more expensive – a five per cent rise on September 5, followed by the same in April 2017 and 2018 – the 46A-G, 47, 146 and 147 could see reduced services, smaller buses or withdrawal.

The 212, 250, 240, 251 and 418b could become less frequent and the 213, 381 and 382 could have fewer stops.

The council said the fare increase is to bring its non-commercial services in line with others, “protecting” the routes.

Highways and transport councillor Eddie Johnson said: “We proposed these increases as a way of helping to ensure the future of a number of vital bus routes across the county.

“We need to bring our bus fares up to date and more in line with commercial operators. 

“After years of freezing fares, it is vital we make this small increase otherwise there is a risk we could lose these bus services altogether.”

Increases will not affect concessionary bus passes.

To comment on potential cuts to services – not the fare increase – visit a council library, phone 03457 430 430 or visit https://surveys.essexinsight.org.uk/BusConsultation.