Commuter rail cases exploded in November

Boston Statehouse
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BOSTON (SHNS) – Commuter rail operator Keolis managed to avoid major workforce impacts for the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording a total of 43 confirmed cases between March and October.

But that trend soon flipped on its head: in November, Keolis counted another 40 cases among its staff, then a whopping 92 in December, according to Rob DiAdamo, the MBTA’s director of commuter rail.

“COVID really hit hard, and it hit very quickly,” DiAdamo told the T and Department of Transportation boards on Monday, offering an account of how rapidly the highly infectious virus can spread through a single workforce. “It didn’t surprise us, but it really does come — you don’t have a problem until you do.”

In mid-December, Keolis officials decided to cut the commuter rail schedule by more than half due to significant staff shortages, a step that DiAdamo said aimed at offering commuters predictability.

Those changes will remain in place until Jan. 23, when the new schedule impacted by weekend service cuts on multiple lines takes effect.

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