By Breana Pitts

BOSTON (CBS) – MBTA commuter rail service is being cut in half starting Monday. The cuts will affect weekday service on all commuter rail lines at every station.

Keolis, the company that runs the commuter rail, said the cuts are due to a rising number of employees out sick with COVID-19. The commuter rail typically operates 541 trains per day, but that number will drop to 246 for now.

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The reduced service will last for at least 2 weeks through December 27. The MBTA and Keolis said they will monitor the situation to determine if it needs to stay in place longer.

The reduced service schedule can be found at MBTA.com and is posted at major stations.

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The company has been providing free COVID testing and gave employees 10 extra paid sick days to account for a situation like the one they are in now.

These cuts are separate from the ones the MBTA’s advisory board is set to vote on Monday.

The T is considering fewer bus routes, cutting weekend commuter rail service and getting rid of ferry service altogether to make up for a budget shortfall that has only worsened during the pandemic with ridership hitting historic lows.

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Local coalition Transit is Essential is urging the board to hold off on voting Monday. They’re pointing to a recent statewide poll that shows a majority of residents oppose the cuts. Last week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the cuts would have “long term, severe impacts” to the city, state and region.

Breana Pitts