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Understaffed US transit agencies adjust services as Omicron surges

Understaffed US transit agencies adjust services as Omicron surges

A conductor looks down the platform of a Brooklyn-bound express subway train as it prepares to leave Times Square 42nd Street station, Oct 27, 2004. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

NEW YORK: Transportation agencies across the US are suspending or reducing service due to COVID-19 staff shortages as the Omicron variant surges nationwide.

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) suspended three New York City subway lines this week one on Wednesday (Dec 29) and two others on Thursday due to understaffing, though all stations remain open, according to MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan.

The MTA suspended lines that service four of the city's five boroughs - the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, including the W line, which was suspended on Wednesday and continued to be suspended on Thursday, when the MTA also cut B and Z line services.

For the second day in a row, the US had a record number of new reported cases based on the seven day average, with more than 290,000 new infections reported each day, a Reuters tally showed, as US officials weigh the impact of the more transmissible Omicron variant.

In Ohio, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has been able to maintain service despite increased COVID-19 cases among employees, but staff shortages forced a reduction in the frequency of trains on its rapid lines this week. Instead of the normal frequency of trains every 15 to 30 minutes, the frequency has been bumped to 45 minutes to an hour, RTA spokesperson Linda Krecic said.

"We've been working carefully to make sure we're able to keep to our schedules," Krecic said, adding that ridership has remained high in recent weeks despite Omicron concerns.

In Southern California, crew shortages at Metrolink, the regional passenger rail system, forced the agency to cancel scheduled early-morning trains departing from a New Year's Eve event in San Bernardino.

Metrolink spokesperson Laurene Lopez said the agency has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases among employees and contractors this week.

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Source: Reuters/yb

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