Reduced train schedules accommodate low employee availability due to COVID-19 absences
BOSTON – December 23, 2020 – The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services announced today that Commuter Rail Reduced Service Schedules will continue to operate through Friday, January 8. Reduced Service Schedules took effect on December 14 due to low employee availability because of COVID-19 absences.
The MBTA and Keolis, like other employers in Massachusetts, have experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases since early December. Various departments have been impacted by these absences, including railroad dispatchers that control movement of trains across the Commuter Rail network.
The reduced schedule includes daily service on all Commuter Rail lines and at all stations, and it is already posted as the Storm Schedule, which was designed in advance to provide lower service levels in severe weather. Reduced Service Schedules, which impact weekday service only, are available at MBTA.com and in major stations today. The Reduced Service Schedule has no changes to weekend scheduled trips.
Since March, Keolis and the MBTA have introduced new technologies like electrostatic sprayers to help sanitize passenger areas quickly and thoroughly. As part of this enhanced sanitization, added attention is given to touch surfaces, employee areas and air filtration systems. Specifically in the dispatch office, in the spring Keolis implemented temperature checks for entrance, required masks and installed clear plastic dividers where possible in addition to daily deep cleanings. Passengers are reminded that all coach cars on every train remain open so they may spread out and maintain social distance.
Commuter Rail has operated consistently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to provide critical transit for essential workers, including nurses and medical professionals, and for transit-dependent communities. Ridership on Commuter Rail has been approximately 13 percent of its pre-COVID levels, and during the holiday weeks in December ridership is historically low.