Steamship numbers dip slightly
For the most part, in October the Steamship Authority (SSA) carried fewer passengers, autos and trucks when compared with the same period last year. Martha's Vineyard fared better than Nantucket, where the decline in traffic was sharper.
For the first 10 months of the year, despite a decline in overall traffic, the boatline's net operating income is almost $12 million, approximately $3 million above expectations. Cost savings, and a drop in fuel prices this year have offset the drop in ridership income, management said.
According to management traffic reports, the SSA carried 179,159 passengers between Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard in October 2009 compared to 187,347 in 2008, a drop of 4.4 percent.
On Nantucket there was a 14.5 percent drop in passenger traffic, or 43,576 to 37,254 in October. Overall passenger traffic between both islands was off by 6.3 percent in October.
The SSA carried 17,869 full fare automobiles between the Vineyard and Woods Hole in October, an increase of 0.4-percent over last year, and 14,563 autos at the discounted Islander excursion rate, an increase of 1.9 percent. Overall, on the Vineyard route traffic was up by 1 percent.
In sharp contrast, Nantucket auto traffic dipped by 10.1 percent, from 5,280 to 4,747 autos.
Trucks less than 20 feet in length declined by 4 percent over the same period last year. Trucks 20 feet and over dropped by 8.2 percent. Overall Vineyard truck traffic went from 8,378 vehicles to 8,230, a drop of 1.8 percent.
On Nantucket, truck traffic declined from 3,561 to 2,982, a 16.3 percent drop October 2008 to October 2009.
Year to date through October 31, for the first 10 months of the year, the SSA carried 1,950,334 passengers on the Vineyard route, an increase of 6,614 when compared with last year, or 0.3 percent more passengers. The boatline carried 467,267 passengers between Nantucket and the mainland, a decrease of 0.3 percent.
Overall SSA passenger traffic to the islands increased by 0.2 percent.
Auto traffic on the Vineyard route increased from 332,657 to 337,540, an increase of 1.5 percent. Autos dipped on the Nantucket route, from 60,473 to 58,874, a decrease of 2.6 percent.
Broken down by month, the overall figures for combined Island auto traffic show the largest decreases came in the months of January (5.9-percent), February (5.2) and March (11). The largest increases were in the months of July (3.6), August (3.5) and September (11).
For the first ten months of the year, SSA combined auto traffic was up 0.8 percent.
In a reflection of the slowdown in building construction, overall truck traffic was down on both Islands. On the Martha's Vineyard route that figure was 3.7 percent, from 84,134 trips to 81,044 trips. Truck traffic dropped by 15.2 percent on Nantucket.
In the first ten months of the year overall truck traffic was down 7.3 percent.