PLANS to cut a bus service claimed to cost the taxpayer £15 a trip to subsidise have been branded a “major concern”.

Essex County Council wants to reduce services on the 250 bus from Debden and the 251 from Waltham Abbey, which both terminate at Waltham Cross.

The local authority is running a public consultation to change the way it operates bus services in order to “redistribute” money.

The council have proposed to reduce these routes by stopping the service running past 8pm and redirecting buses to skip Loughton High Road.

It says each person who uses the service costs the taxpayer up to £15.07 in subsidies and have pledged spend no more than £5 on an average journey.

Dave Plummer, a Green Party campaigner, says the move was “terrible news” for workers in the hospitality business and expressed worries for the future of the buses.

He said: “The under-use of our bus services is a major concern and one that points to the utter failure of our county council and private operators to agree a reliable, affordable service which is fit for purpose.

“Our roads are already overcrowded, parking is an increasing problem and the long term health and environmental implications of more cars on our roads are becoming apparent. We won’t address any of that by cutting bus services even further.”

The public have until July 3 to have their say before the consultation closes.

Essex County Council leader, Cllr David Finch, said: “We provide financial support for a number of bus services. It is our responsibility to ensure that they provide a reliable service to as many residents and communities as possible, while also delivering value for money to the taxpayer.

“During this latest redesign we found that the future cost of supporting some less well used bus services would have needed taxpayers to contribute more than the price of a flight to Lanzarote each time somebody used the bus. That is clearly not sustainable.

“We have listened to nearly 5,000 residents whose views have helped redesign the bus network to provide a more reliable service for bus users and deliver better value for money for taxpayers across Essex.

“I can assure residents no bus service is ever withdrawn without us exploring all other alternatives.”

Neighbours have already seen the 167 bus route cut, which had run through Debden until parts of the route were scrapped when the council withdrew £580,000 in subsidies.

If proposals go ahead, the reduced service will come into effect in September 2017.

To take part in the consultation, visit