SSA plans to scale back not close reservation office

At theSSA board meeting Tuesday, Tisbury port council representative George Balco provided a report on the port council's meeting. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Steamship Authority (SSA) members assured the audience Tuesday that it is not planning to close the Island reservation office, now located at the airport, just cut expenses.

Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said at the members’ meeting Tuesday in Vineyard Haven that the boatline this week planned to advertise for leased office or counter space. He said he had also discussed the availability of space in the Martha’s Vineyard Airport terminal with airport manager Sean Flynn.

Mr. Lamson said that if the SSA decides to rent only counter space, it could continue to process walk-up reservation transactions on the Island while handling phone reservations at Mashpee, or, depending on the availability of space, move the reservation office to another location.

The new owners of the building that houses the SSA airport reservation office have said that the boatline’s lease will not be extended past January 31, 2012. According to the SSA, the reservations office handled 17,910 counter transactions in 2010 and cost the boatline about $300,000 annually.

Robert Marshall of Falmouth, SSA chairman, took note of the cost at the meeting in the Katharine Cornell Memorial Theatre. “That’s about $18 per individual visit,” he said.

Mr. Marshall said he was not advocating closing the facility or eliminating jobs, only reducing the cost per visit to something that “makes sense.”

That was good news to an Oak Bluffs woman who said she and her husband appreciate the personal attention the office provides.

George Balco, Tisbury port council representative, said SSA customers “get individual TLC, and that’s very important.”

The members are to make a decision when it meets next on September 20.

In other business, the members approved management’s proposed 2012 winter and spring vessel operating schedules. There are no significant changes.

The winter schedule starts one day later and runs three days longer than in 2011. Also, the 7:30 pm departure for the vessel Martha’s Vineyard during the winter schedule will be changed to 7:15 pm to be consistent with the schedule during the rest of the year, management said.

The 2012 spring schedule will end on Sunday, May 20, which means that the 2012 summer schedule, with service into Oak Bluffs, will begin on May 21, the Monday before the 2012 Memorial Day weekend.

Members also approved management’s recommendation to dispose of surplus property using an online auction website,, that is designed for selling government surplus items over the Internet. The surplus items include used engines, gears, alternators, generators, outboard motors, table saws, mufflers, floor tile, windows, and scrap vehicles.