After 72 hours, SSA shuts down survey

The ferry Martha's Vineyard had two trips canceled today due to mechanical issues. - Rich Saltzberg

The survey the Steamship Authority launched Friday, Sept. 15, was halted Monday, Sept. 17, a mere 72 hours after it began. The ferry service had sought to learn how to improve itself.

“We invite you to participate in a survey about travel options between Cape Cod and the Islands to help us improve our operations and service,” the SSA’s Survey Monkey pitch read.

“So this SSA survey notice was published online in The MV Times last Friday and promoted yesterday in their daily email newsletter,” Chilmark library director Ebba Hierta wrote in a post on SOSA (Save Our Steamship Authority). “I went to the survey page within an hour of getting The MV Times newsletter, and found that the survey was closed. Did anyone participate? How did you hear about it? Kind of unfortunate that it was only available for a weekend.”

“Ebba Rene Hierta, as I mentioned in my email to you, we received nearly 2,000 responses over the weekend,” Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll wrote in a response post. “Our goal was 1,000, so we shut it off following the strong turnout. Anyone can always leave feedback online at, or email me directly and I’ll pass it on to the appropriate personnel.”

In an email to The Times, Hierta said she went to the online comment portal “to let them know that I believe launching a customer survey with so little promotion or attempt to reach their customers essentially renders the survey results meaningless. I know this from experience, having done community surveys with help from professional consultants. Nobody from the SSA has responded to my comments.”

Driscoll confirmed the survey ran from Friday to Monday and received about 1,000 more responses than expected. Asked if they announced the survey would close, he wrote, “We didn’t announce it online in the first place — it went out via various mailing lists.”

He added there are alternative methods of providing opinion and suggestion. “They can give us feedback in any number of ways, including our online feedback form,” he wrote.


  1. I see spinning Bull Burgers coming from the SSA new Spokesperson on this story. The poll was poorly skewed to the seasonal traveling public and not to many of the issues of the island residents.

  2. so now the steamship has 2 x the comments they need– great– they can disregard the half they don’t like–
    money well spent.

  3. Ok– we have a firm trying to figure out what to do about the steamship issues– we ( through the steamship ) are paying for this. pretty big money– it will be reflected in the price of a ticket next year– So the consulting firm asks for input from the community, expecting 1,000 responses or less. Perhaps the consulting firm should hire a consulting firm to tell them something about vineyard residents. When I read the article in the times about this, I expected 10,000 responses. I didn’t get to express my opinion, as it was closed– seems like the ssa is throwing more money down the rabbit hole– when will this stop ?

  4. The more responses they got the more statistically accurate the poll might have been. However, that may not have been the goal. When they got 10 nice comments for their website they decided to shut it down…and it only took 2,000 responses to get them.
    The existing comment section of the website often doesn’t work (you learn this after wasting time filling it out and entering your comment) and when it does you rarely get a response. When you do get lucky and get a response it’s usually not all that responsive. Other than that the system works pretty well.

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