Bus routes used by hundreds of thousands of passengers a year could be scrapped if Leicester City Council chooses to stop funding.
Currently, the authority pays bus operators more than £500,000-a-year to serve 14 routes around the city.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has announced a review of the routes which he says have been developed in a "haphazard" way since the 1990s.
He insisted the review was not driven by the need to save money but to take a more strategic approach.
However, he admitted the current set-up was not giving tax-payers good value for money and pointed out one service, the Centrebus 10/11 Inner Circle route, has been subsidised to the tune of £5.16 per passenger, per journey.
"At the moment we do, in effect, choose to purchase some bus services. They are the ones the operators will not run because they are not profitable.
"It is not a very efficient way of doing things.
"We have to ask if there is a better and more economical way of providing services.
"It may be at the end of the review there are fewer services.
"It could be that we can reroute some of them.
"We want to make sure we are not duplicating any services.
"As we pay for the services, we can choose what to do with them."
The council will today launch a consultation with the bus companies and passengers about the way it carries out the review, which will be followed by a public consultation at a later date.
Any changes would come into effect in the autumn.
Steve Zanker, general manager of First buses, said: "Some of these services need the subsidy but whatever the council decides we will look at them individually, at their patronage, and the demographics of the area they serve and decide whether there is a commercial case to continue them."
Passenger Simon Frost, 36, from Evington, uses the number 36 bus to get into the city centre several times a week.
He said: "It's great for me and I hope they keep it, but there are times when only one or two people take it all the way into the city centre.
"I do think they should keep these bus services though. There is a social need and no alternative means of travel without them."
Currently, £200,000 of the council's subsidy for bus travel comes from fine income generated by bus lane cameras in Charles Street and Causeway Lane.
Sir Peter said: "It is widely anticipated income from that will drop off as more people get the message about not driving in them."
Sir Peter has asked the Government for greater powers to regulate bus services in the city, as London's mayor Boris Johnson has the power to do.
As yet, he has not succeeded in gaining any concessions.
He said: "It is rather frustrating. I keep banging on the door at every opportunity."