The Coasthopper bus service will almost certainly not run next winter if Norfolk County Council goes ahead with plans to slash its subsidy.
A top boss at Norfolk Green, the provider of the service, made the prediction after revealing the firm already loses £100,000 to £150,000 a year running the Lynn to Cromer link.
Richard Pengelly, operations manager, said he was 90 per cent sure the bus would not run next winter, 2014/15, if the cut happens.
The bus is the only one serving villages between Hunstanton and Sheringham, including Brancaster and Burnham Overy Staithe.
Mr Pengelly said: “I see no way forward on this current subsidy at all. The county just see this as a tourist route but it is a lifeline for people travelling to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and doctors surgeries.
“I find it obscene that Norfolk Green and the Coasthopper can lose £250,000 and the rest of the county bus network isn’t going to lose a penny. I just don’t think they care about the west.”
Mr Pengelly believes the county council wants to see the end of the service as a high proportion of its summer users are elderly tourists, who travel for free. The council has to pick up the tab for reimbursing Norfolk Green.
The council is proposing to slash the amount of cash it gives to the service from £225,000 a year to £150,000 next year and £75,000 the year after, as part of a £189 million savings drive.
It has said the current subsidy for the Coasthopper service is equivalent to about eight per cent of the budget that supports 140 bus services across Norfolk.
The council estimates that passengers of the service spent around £7 million in the area and has suggested businesses could pay towards it. Mr Pengelly believes that is unlikely.
The county council has suggested Norfolk Green could run the service less frequently to offset the cuts, but Mr Pengelly said that would lead to overcrowding in summer and not offset winter losses.
Val Carpenter, 64, of Boughey Close, Brancaster, launched an online petition to save the service when cuts were mooted earlier in the year.
The petition on Charge.org now has more than 1,800 signatures.
She said: “If that service becomes more restricted people will stop wanting to live here.”
This bit of the coast will be even more isolated than we are now.”
Carole Coutanche, 56, of The Quay, Burnham Overy Staithe, said: “We are being penalised for living in a rural area. It’s a vital service. I believe the death knell on this is free bus passes and I think a lot of people would be happy to pay half-fare to keep the buses running.”