COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on yet another critical human activity.
This time it's public transportation.
Starting Tuesday – at the same time people were no longer be allowed to dine at restaurants – the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began operating fewer trains into and from Boston on all commuter rail lines. Subways and most buses will operate on the Saturday schedule.
Ferry service has been discontinued.
The first train of the day will leave the Haverhill station at 7:15 a.m., according to the new schedule. It will make stops at Bradford at 7:18 a.m., Lawrence at 7:27 a.m., Andover at 7:32 a.m. and Ballardvale at 7:37 a.m.
The 7:15 a.m. train is scheduled to arrive at North Station at 8:21 a.m. The next train for Boston will not leave Haverhill until 10:20 a.m.
For the evening commute, a Haverhill-bound train will leave North Station at 5:20 p.m. and arrive in Haverhill at 6:28 p.m. The next train for Haverhill will not depart North Station until 8:20 p.m.
For those who have to work very late, the final Haverhill-bound train of the night will leave North Station at 11:30 p.m. For more details, visit www.MBTA.com/coronavirus.
The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, which manages the trains for the former, say they took this action to reduce the threat of passengers being infected by the coronavirus. They have pledged a more extensive cleanup of trains, buses and subway cars.
"We will continue to disinfect key passenger areas and touch points on commuter rail trains every 24 hours, with many of our trains receiving this deeper clean every 12 hours," said David Scorey, chief executive officer and general manager of Keolis. "We're working closely with the MBTA and monitoring closely guidance from state and federal public health officials to ensure we're staying up to date during this very fluid situation. While we are continuing to provide service at a reduced level, it is critical for people to follow recent state protocols, such as social distancing and very limited gatherings."
As a further precaution to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the MBTA and Keolis are urging passengers to buy tickets at ticket offices, vending machines or the M-Ticket app to limit the use of cash as much as possible.
Keolis and the MBTA will provide updates on service via Twitter at @MBTA_CR, MBTA.com, T-Alerts, station signs and onboard announcements.