MBTA cutting commuter rail service on all lines for at least two weeks

BOSTON, Mass. (WLNE) – Starting Monday, commuter rail service on the MBTA will be slashed by more than half for at least two weeks.

The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, the company that runs the trains, announced this week that the commuter rail would operate a Reduced Service Schedule temporarily starting Monday, December 14, until at least Sunday, December 27.

Keolis cited low employee availability because of COVID-19 absences as the reason for the reduced service, saying MBTA and Keolis have experienced an increase in cases among staff.

Regular train service includes 541 daily trains, but this change would bring that number down to 246 daily trains.

“That’s terrible because they already changed the times to make it harder for us, but not only that, it’s just, it’s less options,” said Corey Hayes of Providence.

Commuters at the Providence station Friday were not pleased with the news.

“My children live in Wickford Junction so I take the commuter rail down there at least three times a week,” said Craig McCarthy of Providence. “I was here last night to take an 8 o’clock train to Wickford Junction, and I think it was around 7:30 or so they canceled it. So then I had to scramble to get down to Kennedy Plaza to catch a bus to go to Wickford Junction. I know they’re doing it for COVID, but less trains is gonna have more people on the trains, so I’m not sure the reasoning there.”

According to the MBTA, ridership has been down 13% compared to ridership pre-pandemic. This holiday season is expected to hit record lows.

But commuters say, don’t punish the loyal customers who are still riding the trains.

“I pay in the morning, I pay at night, never complained or anything like that, and to be impacted so greatly now… To penalize the commuter who’s actually paying every day doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s very frustrating.”

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Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News, Rhode Island