Steamship Authority reports modest increases in 2012

A chart of the general and administrative expenses from the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority 2012 annual report. — Photo courtesy of SSA Annual Report

An overall increase in the numbers of people and vehicles carried by the Steamship Authority (SSA) in 2012 over 2011 between the mainland and Martha’s Vineyard was matched by a commensurate increase in revenues, according to the SSA’s 2012 annual report. Operating income, the difference between revenue and the operating expenses while in the black, was less than in 2011.

According to the report, the SSA carried more than 2.2 million passengers between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland in 2012, in both directions, a 2.5 percent increase over the previous year. More than three times as many people left the Vineyard from Vineyard Haven, 858,656, than from Oak Bluffs, 258,451 in 2012. Oak Bluffs had an increase of 7.2 percent while there was only an increase of 1.1 percent from Vineyard Haven over 2011. There was an increase in passengers of 2.5 percent leaving from Woods Hole.

The percentage increases in automobile traffic on the boats was similar to the passenger increases, with 193,339 autos coming from Woods Hole to the Vineyard, a 2.6 per cent increase over 2011. A total of 159,122 cars left from Vineyard Haven, a 2 percent increase, and 33,092 left from Oak Bluffs, a 5.9 percent increase over 2011.

Operating income for 2012 was reported as $4.6 million on revenue totaling $85.4 million and operating expenses of $80.8 million. Operating income in 2011 was $5.8 million on revenue of $83.2 million and expenses of $77.4 million. The report states that the decline in operating income is “primarily attributed” to a $3.4 million dollar increase in the SSA’s total operating expenses.

The report lists increases in 2012 over 2011 in maintenance costs, vessel operating expenses, chiefly due to higher fuel oil expenses, terminal and parking lot operation cost increases, general and administration expenses and increases in the reservations and customer service costs of 18 percent, primarily due to increased advertising expenses.

Vessel payroll expense was down by 1.5 percent from 2011 due to a reduction in manpower requirements on some of the boats as a result of changes in the SSA’s collective bargaining agreement, according to the SSA treasurer/comptroller Robert B. Davis.

Truck traffic from Woods Hole decreased by 1.5 percent to the Vineyard with Oak Bluffs showing an increase of 4.7 percent, to 6,030 trucks, while Vineyard Haven had a decrease of 2.4 percent, 50,313 trucks.

SSA board members approved rate increases effective January 1, 2013, that are expected to raise $1,500,000 in additional operating revenue based on 2012 traffic volumes. These rate increases were needed to offset the expected increases in operating expenses, primarily vessel fuel oil expense, wages, benefits and maintenance expenses, according to the report.