SSA seasonal reservations seem promising
Reports of a faltering national economy have yet to affect Steamship Authority (SSA) summer reservations. At the boatline's monthly meeting Tuesday in Woods Hole, general manager Wayne Lamson reported that bookings are on a par with last year.
Mr. Lamson told the SSA members that it was encouraging news when looked at against a backdrop of gloomy news reports.
The positive news was balanced by reports of significant increases in unbudgeted operating and capital expenses.
Robert Davis, SSA treasurer, said the boatline is currently paying $3.66 per gallon for fuel. The 2008 operating budget was built around an expected cost of $3.06 per gallon.
The SSA members expressed concern with the effect on the budget and projected profits. Mr. Davis said he is attempting to peg the cost of a barrel of oil to fuel costs so that he can project the pressure that will be placed on the budget but shifting market prices make that difficult.
A report by Carl Walker, SSA director of engineering, on several ongoing construction projects included a description of approximately $2.9 million in unexpected costs. The projects include the Oak Bluffs and Nantucket terminals, the mid-life refurbishment of the ferry Nantucket and the Fairhaven bulkhead and pier improvements.
Problems arose with the Nantucket during the shipyard removal of decking and asbestos. Workers found steel that needed to be replaced and lead paint that needed to be removed. Change orders totaled $1 million, approximately $800,000 more than anticipated.
The Oak Bluffs terminal reconstruction project is lagging behind schedule. Weather has been one factor said Mr. Walker. The contract called for work to be completed April 20. That date has been pushed back to May 10. Service is scheduled to begin on May 20.
Mr. Walker said he plans to have weekly meetings with the contractor and keep a close watch on progress.
Repairs to the Nantucket terminal were complicated by the need to drive piles 40 feet deeper than anticipated. In Fairhaven the SSA encountered a great deal of subsurface debris that added $575,000 to the project.
In a series of votes the SSA members unanimously agreed to several changes in policies and procedures.
They agreed to allow High-Line to eliminate high speed ferry service between Oak Bluffs and Hyannis in April and November and increase capacity from 200 to 300 passengers on high speed trips to Nantucket.
The board approved a recommendation to adopt a written policy regarding the safeguarding or personal information. The SSA will now provide discounted rates for any individuals with physical or mental disabilities or veterans with a disability rating of 70 percent or greater provided the individual applies for and receives a SSA transportation pass.
The board approved a change in customer reservation policies that would allow commercial vehicles that are more than 20 feet in length to remain on the wait list for reservations until noon of the day prior to sailing rather than 48 hours prior to a scheduled sailing.