Commuter rail riders will feel the pinch of reduced weekend schedules later this month.
In the first salvo of MBTA service cuts approved in December, trains starting Jan. 23 will no longer run on weekends on the commuter rail's Fitchburg, Franklin, Greenbush, Haverhill, Kingston/Plymouth, Lowell and Needham Lines.
Five lines — the Newburyport/Rockport, Framingham/Worcester, Fairmount, Providence and Middleborough Lines — will continue to run some weekend service at lower frequencies.
In a press release announcing the start date, the MBTA pitched the schedule changes as a boon for riders, noting that Jan. 23 will also bring slight increases to the number of trains running on weekdays and will offer more than half as much weekday service as last year even though ridership is less than 10% of pre-pandemic levels.
Commuter rail operator Keolis cut service by more than half in December as a short-term step to cope with significant staff shortages amid a COVID-19 outbreak. That reduction will remain in place through Jan. 22, officials said Thursday, and will be replaced by the new schedule a day later.
Other service cuts the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board approved will not take effect until later in 2021. Officials punted decisions about how long they will last until the T starts its fiscal year 2022 budget process in February and March.