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Reduced Commuter Rail Schedules Leave Health Care Workers in the Lurch

An outbound MBTA Fairmount Line train stops at the Talbot Avenue station in December 2012. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Update: At its Monday, March 23 board meeting, the MBTA announced that it would be restoring some early-morning commuter rail trips specifically to serve health care workers. Read our report here.

Several health care professionals reached out to StreetsblogMASS on Tuesday to note that this week's reduced commuter rail schedules can not get workers to hospitals in time for the 7 a.m. shift change.

Starting this morning, the T reduced subway, bus, and commuter rail services in an effort to reduce the risks of COVID-19 exposure to its employees and riders.

But for many hospital workers who work 12-hour shifts that start at 7 a.m., the new commuter rail schedules have eliminated transit as a commuting option.

Today's earliest commuter rail train on on the Newburyport line was scheduled to arrive at North Station at 7:31 a.m. The earliest train on the Worcester line was scheduled to arrive at South Station at 7:00 a.m. exactly. And the earliest train on the Fitchburg line wasn't scheduled to arrive at North Station until 8:01 a.m.

One health care worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told StreetsblogMASS that the new schedule is "infuriating."

"I work normal shift hours, 7 to 7, but on the commuter rail line I live off (the schedule) no longer works for me," they said. "If most of the city is shut down except hospitals, why are they choosing these times?"

Lisa Battinson, and MBTA spokesperson, wrote in an email that the T would continue to adjust its schedules "with a particular focus on workforce access for hospitals, as well as food distribution locations operated by the City of Boston."

Battinson also noted that the T has already decided to stage additional trains on the Blue Line tomorrow morning in response to heavy passenger volume today. Later Tuesday evening, the T also announced that they would add more service on the Green Line's E branch, which serves the Longwood Medical Area.

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