By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – The MBTA says riders should be prepared for delays this week because of the bitter cold coming and staffing issues due to COVID-19.

“The MBTA will make every effort to operate subway trains and buses at or near regular weekday schedules, but some delays may occur,” General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement about the frigid temperatures starting Tuesday. Tuesday could be the coldest day in the Boston area in three years.

To help protect equipment from the cold, the T will put buses and trains indoors overnight and vehicles that stay outside will be checked regularly. Trains will also be cycled in and out of rail yards, brakes will be tested, doors will be opened and closed, and heaters for track switches and third rails will be inspected.

The commuter rail also put out a notice on Twitter saying the Haverhill and Worcester lines will “operate on an Adjusted Winter Schedule” starting Monday and last two weeks, because of “COVID19 impacts on workforce availability.”

Pokftak told WBZ-TV at least 50 MBTA employees have active cases of COVID.

“Our rule of thumb is that for every active case there are another two employees who are not available because they’re either in some form of quarantine or awaiting the results of a test of awaiting a test,” he said.

The staffing issues are primarily affecting the commuter rail and bus service. The MBTA was already experiencing a shortage of bus drivers.

“We are budgeted to hire a significant number of bus drivers. At least 180 and up to 300,” Poftak said.

According to a spokesperson for Keolis, the transportation company that runs the commuter rail with the MBTA, only eight trains have been cancelled due to COVID-19 related staffing issues in the last 14 days out of more than 5,000 trips. That accounts for approximately .1% of total planned operations.

Riders can monitor any service delays by following the MBTA on social media and signing up for T-alerts. Staff