FINGER-POINTING authorities are blaming each other for the recent cuts to a popular bus route.

The accusations come after a mother complained that her son was regularly late to school and is forced to board an overcrowded bus.

The 167 bus was recently cut after Essex County Council took away their £580,000 yearly funding for the service and a new bus, the 677, now runs twice a day to take children to and from school.

Transport for London, who are responsible for the service, believe they are providing the best service they can after the council’s funding was cut.

The route used to run from Ilford to Debden, but now only runs to Loughton.

Kathryn Sacks’ son, Daniel, who goes to school in Debden, is now late to school and can’t take part in after school activities.

Mrs Sacks said: “Every day he has got it he has been late by five to 15 minutes. It’s overcrowded. I just think it’s not fair for the children to be late. The school don’t penalise but it’s still not right.”

A petition took off last summer which attempted to halt the consultation process. Although attracting more than 1000 signatures in its first four days, it did nothing to stop the process.

John Barry, head of bus network at Transport for London, said: “We took the difficult decision to reduce TFL bus service frequencies in this part of Essex, following the decision made by Essex County Council to withdraw the funding they were providing towards the cost of running the service into the county.

“All comments in the consultation were considered carefully before making our decision. We will continue to keep all aspects of the changes under close and regular monitoring. Working with Essex County Council, we will review the position again in Spring 2018.”

Green party member and transport action campaigner, Dave Plummer, believes the problems were anticipated by members of the public, but were not listened to.

He said: “We said from the outset that reducing the 167 would lead to problems like this. While we appreciate that there are funding difficulties, local bus services are too important to cut as this proves.”

The council say that the route was too expensive to run, and they would have had to cut services elsewhere to maintain it.

Councillor Eddie Johnson, executive member for highways and transport, said: “The decision to change the route of the 167 service is one that was made by TfL. Historically this service had received some support from Essex taxpayers, but the cost was extremely high and TfL were the beneficiaries of fare income as they run the service.

“To continue to support it would have meant wholescale service withdrawals from other parts of the county. Therefore, reluctantly, the decision was taken to withdraw that taxpayer support.

“However, the decision to make changes is for TfL and therefore I would recommend issues with the services are raised with them.”