A “lifeline” bus route connecting schools, workplaces and train stations could be dramatically cut back.

Under Transport for London (TfL) proposals, the 167 – currently running between Ilford and Debden Tube station – would end at Loughton Underground.

Davenant Foundation School and Debden Park High School would no longer be connected by the three-times-an-hour service, instead having to rely on a single morning and afternoon double-decker shuttle service on a similar route.

The proposed change comes after Essex County Council withdrew a £586,000 subsidy to TfL for the 167 and 20 routes in April.

“I don’t think you have to be a regular bus user to be concerned, it is so important,” said teacher and independent councillor Stephen Murray.

“I think it will have a very big effect.

“There are alternatives, but the 167 has been a very long standing bus service.

“It used to be a bus service I got when I was a child, so it has been running in our area for decades.

“It will be a significant loss to the bus services in the Debden area.”

There are fears that the new twice-daily 677 will be unable to cater for after-school activities and flexible college timetables.

Other people expected to be affected include Debden commuters who travel to Ilford every morning, and people who rely on public transport to visit Loughton High Road.

Loughton Residents Association councillor Chris Pond said: “It is a very regrettable move, not unexpected because Essex withdrew their subsidy.

“It will be hugely inconvenient and a real nuisance, there is no doubt about that.”

He added he will “certainly try to persuade” the council to provide a 167 replacement if TfL cut the Debden section, although concerns have previously been raised that any council replacement would be an inferior commercial service.

Stops no longer served by the 167 would include Church Hill, Rectory Lane and Willingale Road.

Under the plans, the bus would continue to run between Ilford and Loughton every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday, and every half hour on evenings and Sundays.

TfL said route 20 will not be changed.

To take part in a consultation on the proposals, visit http://bit.ly/1tol8mn by July 22.