commuter rail

MBTA Commuter Rail Service Being Slashed as Employees Get COVID-19

"Passengers are encouraged to check the Reduced Service Schedule in advance to plan their trip because there are changes in the weekday schedule"

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The MBTA Commuter Rail will cut the number of trains it runs every day by more than half starting Dec. 14, the agency and Keolis Commuter Services announced Thursday, citing low ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic and low employee availability.

Regular service includes 541 daily trains, but the transportation agency will temporarily reduce that to 246, officials said in a joint statement.

"Passengers are encouraged to check the Reduced Service Schedule in advance to plan their trip because there are changes in the weekday schedule," Keolis CEO and General Manager David Scorey said in a statement.

The MBTA and Keolis, which operates the commuter trains, said the service reduction is due to an increase in COVID-19 cases at the agency over the past 10 days. During the cutback in service, officials said they will monitor employees to see if the reduced service schedule should remain in place past Dec. 27.

In the meantime, trains and stations are being thoroughly cleaned with electrostatic sprayers and air filtration systems are being used, officials said.

"Our rigorous cleaning practices at stations and onboard trains remain in place, including regular deep cleanings, sanitizing touchpoints and the use of foggers to help ensure safety. Masks continue to be a requirement for all passengers and crews on trains as well," Scorey said.

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While no changes have been made to the weekend schedule, commuters are urged to check the Commuter Rail schedule on the MBTA's website.

The coronavirus pandemic has scared a lot of people away from the MBTA, which is why the cash-strapped agency is planning to make big cuts. But those plans aren't popular with riders or Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who blasted the service cuts on Monday, calling them "simply wrong."
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