SSA considers minimum age for unaccompanied children to travel

File photo by Susan Safford

The members of the Steamship Authority (SSA) met Tuesday for their monthly business meeting and fielded a request from boatline management to consider establishing a minimum age for children to travel on the ferries unaccompanied by an adult.

SSA general manager Wayne Lamson asked the authority members to consider adopting such a policy at their next meeting. Currently the SSA requires that children under five years of age be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for their care and conduct during the passage, according to a management report of the meeting.

Mr. Lamson said that many other ferry operators and transportation providers have policies that require all children 12 and under to be accompanied by a passenger 13 or older.

The members agreed to solicit feedback from customers who would be negatively impacted by the proposed change before deciding whether to establish management’s proposed policy or some other policy the board believes is more suitable, according to the report.

Mr. Lamson told The Times in an email that the issue arose after a customer called the Nantucket terminal and asked if the SSA had a policy on the minimum age at which children are allowed to travel on the ferries unaccompanied by an adult. She was told that an 8-year-old would be allowed to travel without an adult.

Currently, the only policy is that children under five travel free but they must be accompanied by an adult, Mr. Lamson said, which implies that children five years of age or over are allowed to travel without an adult.

Comments may be sent by mail to Wayne Lamson, General Manager, Steamship Authority, P.O. Box 284, Woods Hole, MA 02543; by email to; or by utilizing the “contact us” tab on the boatline website.

In other business, Mr. Lamson reported that the SSA is moving closer to launching its new website depending on how quickly it resolves outstanding issues. The SSA expects to launch the website within the next three weeks, according to a management report of the meeting.

The board members also approved an inter-island automobile excursion rate so that residents of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard can visit without having to pay a regular round-trip ticket to the other island. The rate will be equal to the combination of the two islands’ automobile excursion rates and will include the automobile and up to two adults and two children. Customers will need to call the Mashpee Reservation Office during regular business hours to make reservations and obtain tickets for travel under this rate.

And the board members authorized several contracts, that included a $1,573,357 contract for repairs to the Oak Bluffs terminal damaged by hurricane Sandy.