CANTON, MASS. (WHDH) - The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services announced Thursday that due to low employee availability because of COVID-19 absences, the Commuter Rail will temporarily operate on a reduced service schedule beginning Monday.

Regular train service includes 541 daily trains — but as of Monday, the Commuter Rail will operate 246 daily trains.

In a statement, the MBTA and Keolis said that “like other employers in Massachusetts, (they) experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past 10 days. The Reduced Service Schedule will run at least through December 27. During this time, the MBTA and Keolis will monitor employee availability to determine if the Reduced Service Schedule needs to remain in place for an extended period.”

The reduced schedule includes daily service on all Commuter Rail lines and at all stations, and it is already posted as a Storm Schedule, which was designed in advance to provide lower service levels in severe weather.

Reduced service schedules impact weekday service only and are available at and in major stations.

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

Many commuters say they are not happy about the upcoming switch.

“I just won’t be able to take the train as much now with this schedule, so I’ll be driving more,” said Erin Camara.

One woman who says she travels to Boston to work at a hospital added that the reduced times will make it harder to get to work.

“This just doesn’t help me,” she said. “I usually get the train at 5:42 in the morning. First train leaving now is 7:47. That’s a big gap.”

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