Today’s news:

Flushing electeds slam MTA over plan to cancel X51 bus

The MTA is aiming to take out one of Flushing’s express buses, but commuters said they are being unfairly targeted.

A group of supporters and elected officials for the X51 bus came out in the pouring rain Friday morning to protest the agency’s doomsday budget that would kill service on the line. The bus is the only express line in the city that would be removed if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cannot find a way to fill its $750 million budget gap.

City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing), who organized the protest, said the agency was placing its financial burden on the backs of hardworking citizens.

“We are here today to send a strong message that we, the citizens, are here to fight for our express buses,” he said.

The bus starts out in Auburndale at 165th Street and Sanford Avenue, has two other stops in Flushing and takes riders to East 57th Street and Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

Although Flushing has a subway line that gives riders access to the city, X51 rider Suzy Carroll said the bus provided residents with an alternative to the overcrowded No. 7 train and local buses. She also said she met a fellow straphanger on the bus the other day who was taking other transportation alternatives, but came back to the X51 when she got a new job.

“There are many people that used to ride this bus that lost their jobs within the past year. Now what happens when they return to the workforce? They’ll have no bus to go to,” Carroll said.

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said she does not know why the MTA is targeting the X51 as opposed to other express lines and said the agency should think about how it would affect her district.

“Flushing is a transportation hub. You take away our transportation, you affect our small businesses, our families and our schools. There are many passengers here and people from many other areas come here as well,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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