A bus service that is the 'lifeblood' of a town could be severely cut back leaving a large area without cover by public transport.

In correspondence sent from Transport for London (TFL) seen by The Guardian, plans to cut peak time journeys on the number 20 bus are outlined.

The route connects Walthamstow Central to Debden Station via Loughton.

The email reads: "We're proposing to possibly withdraw some extra peak time journeys.

"This may see a reduced frequency between 7am and 9am, and between 4pm and 7pm, on weekdays.

"This wouldn't affect other daytime, evening or weekend services.

"TFL is removing excess unused capacity across our bus network, to make better use of our resources where they're more greatly needed."

Although such proposals are vague, if the changes do go ahead it is likely they will be made on March 23, 2019 when the route's contract is next awarded by TFL.

One concerned number 20 user is Gerry Davey, who rides the bus from Loughton Station to his home in The Heights just over a mile away.

He believes the service is already inadequate and cannot take a further reduction.

The 89 year-old former LSE researcher said: "The 20 bus is the lifeblood of Loughton and Debden.

"Although buses are supposed to be four every hour, on two personal journey from Whipps Cross hospital I had to wait an hour.

"I was told there was a broken down bus but I said this did not account for three buses not arriving.

"All types of passengers are severely delayed: school children, commuters, shoppers and especially the old, who are often not allowed to drive or cannot afford a car.

"Overcrowding is standard and old people are continually offered seats."

Mr Davey is concerned drivers are not recording all bus pass holder who come onto the bus, meaning TFL is getting a skewed picture of the service's popularity.

Last year the number 167 was stopped on its route beyond Loughton and the 66 re-routed so it does not go from Loughton Station through the Debden estate.

Geoff Hobbs, director of public transport service planning, said: “There are no immediate planned changes to the route 20. We regularly review our services to ensure they meet passenger demand. Should there be a need to make changes to the service we will engage with the local community.”