Protestors: Save our vital (and always empty) bus lines!

Protestors: Save our vital (and always empty) bus lines!
Community Newspaper Group / Steven Goodstein

An MTA plan to cut a key Brooklyn-to-Manhattan bus line would leave disabled people stranded, handicapped people and their supporters charged on Tuesday afternoon.

A crowd of 100 people rallied at Brooklyn Borough Hall to slam the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to cut the B51 and B39 routes, which transport riders from Downtown Brooklyn or Williamsburg to Manhattan, giving people in wheelchairs an alternative to the subway.

“Going on the subway is like playing Russian Roulette,” said Gabriela Amari, who works with the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “They only update the Web site three times a day, so I never know if the elevators are working.”

The MTA says it must cut the B51 and B39 as part of a larger effort to close a yawning deficit. The B51 line was chosen because it is the 189th busiest bus out of 194 lines total, while the B39 ranked 181st.

As if on cue, as protesters and Borough President Markowitz called for the retention of both lines, chanting “Save the B51, save the B51,” a B51 bus pulled over to the curb with just one woman on it.

Markowitz dismissed the empty bus, and the MTA’s ridership statistics, as meaningless.

“What is important here is not the low ridership numbers, but the people who make up these numbers,” he said. “The people aren’t riding [the B51] bus because they want to, because the subway is actually quicker. People use this because they have no choice!”

MTA officials declined to comment, but have said in the past that they are seeking the fairest way to balance the agency’s budget — a harder task given the recent deal to save student Metrocards.