MBTA Commuter Rail extends reduced schedule as coronavirus hits staff

The Purple Line will continue to leave its riders feeling blue as the Commuter Rail’s operator is extending reduced service hours as it grapples with the coronavirus in its workforce.
Keolis Commuter Services, the company that operates the lines for the MBTA, said this week that the cuts it initially announced Dec. 14 will continue through Jan. 8. The reduced schedule had been due to expire this Sunday.
This is happening “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,” Keolis, a French train giant, said in the press release announcing the extension.
The reductions include daily service on all Commuter Rail lines and at all stations, and it is already posted as the storm schedule.
Keolis touted various measures it uses to keep its trains coronavirus-free, including electrostatic sprayers to help sanitize passenger areas and temperature checks for employees.
The Commuter Rail’s ridership numbers continue to take a huge hit amid the pandemic, with only about 13% of the number of people normally aboard the system taking it currently.
The low number of passengers is also leading to longer-term cuts, which the T’s oversight board voted to approve earlier this month for the Commuter Rail, subway and buses.

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