Time is now for electric ferries


To the Editor:

We need a coordinated transportation system. On the day of the climate strike, I write to urge our officials to become part of the solution by placing a priority on public transportation that is reliable, convenient, inexpensive, and green. The bottom line has to be transportation, not revenue. When the VTA found itself with a budget shortfall, why did they cut routes? The entire purpose of the VTA is transportation, not management, real estate, or contracting. The last thing cut should be services. Salaries of managers, office rents, and outside contracts need to be reduced before reducing the core mission. 

This responsibility does not just fall on the VTA, but on the Steamship Authority as well. They should help to fund the VTA and coordinate travel with them. Instead, they use their increased revenue to erect office palaces that are aesthetically and socially offensive to the towns where they are built.

The SSA should also be planning an electric fleet, reducing the size of their ferries, and limiting summer auto traffic to levels agreed to by the islands they serve. Parking should be free or very low-cost. Auto rates for trips originating off-Island should be very high, but with a functioning bus fleet, tourists could have a positive experience. The SSA is wrong to pass the expense of creating a safe and modern management system to consumers. The governors chose to support an inept system that told them to go on a building spree. Instead, they should be looking at scaling back building costs, and reducing future fuel costs by investing in a 21st century electric-powered fleet.


Joy Robinson-Lynch
West Tisbury


  1. Joy— don keller here– First, thank you for helping to educate my daughter—
    I agree with you sentiment about the ssa wasting money on various buildings and wasteful projects.
    They are totally out of control, and have no clue about their environmental impact. While I think electric boats are a great idea, and should be part of the discussion before the next boat is built. I am sure it would be a bit expensive on the up front cost. To that point, i would not advocate for reduced parking rates– you have to pay for this stuff, after all. Advocating for the reduction in the cost of parking while advocating for the implementation of a front end loaded expense is not a viable thing to do. It gives the “fossil fuel only” crowd an opportunity to mock you. — Just watch–
    Good letter, Thanks..

  2. I won’t mock on the electrical end of this letter. Though it doesn’t seem like the writer has ever had the experience of balancing a checkbook. The ssa to fund vta, and make parking free? You do know that parking is a bigger money maker than the actual Ferry runs don’t you? I mean this isn’t even an idea it’s an impossible wish list.

  3. whale oil– for once we agree– i will put extra cheese on my pasta tonight to celebrate a common thread–
    may it happen more often.

  4. The vast majority of electricity generated in this country comes from fossil fuel-powered generators, predominantly coal. Burning coal doesn’t sound like you would think it any more environmentally-friendly than gasoline- or diesel-powered vessels. Nuclear-powered ferries, Yes; electricity-powered ferries, No.

    • Islander– I could not find very much information on the efficiencies of electric ferries–
      But I could find numbers about cars, and i would assume some of these efficiencies carry over.
      https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv-ev.shtml — electric car–77-82 % of energy to wheels.
      https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv.shtml —– gas powered car — 16-25 % of energy to wheels
      Also, not sure this community would rally behind nuclear powered ferries..
      You could e mail me at dkdondondon @ gmaill. com and I could explain the efficiencies of large scale generation of electricity even by fossil fuels vs the efficiencies of end use electric motors, if my example above is not clear…

  5. Folks have been led to believe that everything can be electric and electricity can be gererated 24/7 from wind and solar. Neither is true. Consider the basics of crop farming, it generally requires a tractor. Tractors run on diesel. The technology for electric tractors does not exist. Likewise there are no electric boats either aside from very small scale. The technology does not exist. No electric planes, No electric tractors, no electric ferries. Only trains that are connected to overhead wires or a third rail. I am sure there are designs and dreams of electric planes, but none exist that can carry people safely. Surely someone will ask you to send a donation to PO Box blahblahblah so one can be built but that is still called a scam in today’s world.
    Even the most primitive method of electric heat is still unaffordable compared to oil and gas. Until electric prices drop to the real cost of under .05 cents a KWH, we will be using oil. This was absolutely a possibility (.05 KWH) all the way up until the offshore wind people showed up. Now it is likely gone forever.

    • myob– I am starting to get a little worried about you– first, you think we will need “thousands of acres of land” to dispose of a few hundred wind turbine blades, and now you are stating that electricity could be generated and delivered for .05 cents per kwh.
      Let me assume you made a mistake and are accidentally off by a factor of 100 , and meant to say 5 cents per kwh. That price has never been even contemplated, let alone within the realm of possibility “until wind power came along.” I admit, I have no ide what you are talking about, please educate me as to the technologies that produce power for that kind of cost.
      And, as you know cape air is purchasing electric planes in the near future ( as reported by this publication)
      May I also remind you that Groton Connecticut is the location of one of Connecticut’s largest employers, a company , strangely enough called “electric boat” hmmmm wonder why they named it that ?
      Also, you might have heard of a company called “John Deer”
      Please watch this video about their fully electric and competitively priced farm tractors– and then you can watch the ads from competing companies that offer electric tractors, and decide which one is best suited for your farming needs.
      Also, I hate to tell you are wrong, but the world’s first totally electric automobile ferry was put into service in Norway in 2015. Many more are coming into service every month.

      • @dondondon12 . There is no such thing as an electric airplane certified to fly passengers in the usa despite whatever folly press release was published.

        • notnew— you are correct that “alice” is not certified to fly passengers–I , the Times, nor anyone else ever claimed they were certified. Please don’t correct me for things I didn’t say. But, the aircraft does indeed exist. I responded to myob’s comment that there are no eclectic tractors, ferries, boats or planes. he said “The technology does not exist. No electric planes”
          And let me repeat again, that the article about cape air’s intentions to purchase electric planes never claimed they were certified and stated they could be “certified by around 2021”. The article in this publication was clear about that, and to refer to the press release as “folly” is not close to an accurate statement. Perhaps part of the problem with the current state of discourse in this country is the fact that trump has been bashing the media so hard , that even well written articles that clearly state facts are considered “folly”
          You can read the article about cape air’s intentions to purchase electric aircraft again, or if you didn’t read it before right here :

          • Yeah right, its Trumps fault that some folly electric plane won’t fly. There is no current battery technology would permit something to be a viable commercial aircraft. (viable= useful load and useful range) Just another liberal folly that ‘wont fly’.

        • not new– I didn’t say or imply that trump had anything to do with the plane. I did state that you apparently don’t believe the “press release”, as you call it. And that is , in my opinion, linked to trump’s constant attacks on the free press. Not everything is “fake news” just because it does not fall into the of your point of view. Fact is, the plane exist. And please, what is so bad about an electric plane that you would deny it’s existence.
          It’s not like I’m telling you there are electric motorcycles, or anything silly like that. And did I say it was “viable” ? Perhaps in your next reply you will inform me that it can’t be put into orbit, or that it can’t take off vertically and hover..
          And what is the “liberal folly” about ? Do you know that the ceo, or the board of directors of the company are liberals ? What does that even mean in Israel ? Come on man, get off the “blame the liberals” for everything you don’t like.

      • Also, I long ago said that the government should send us all vouchers for full rooftop solar install. Cost of electricity… zero. Cost of delivery…zero. That is way less than the .05 cents I quoted. Excess power would be paid for from the grid. (I get paid for rooftop solar electricity every day in the summer months) The vouchers could be exchanged for cash on the open market for those who live in the shade. A micro rooftop windmill could be a secondary option if they are quiet enough for folks who’s homes are in the wind.

    • BS –After my father retired from 20years of submarine service, he worked for the Gould Battery company, which provided batteries and technical services to the navy for their submarines. He was their tech rep and trouble shot battery problems on the nukes. Did you know that about 1/3 of the weight of a nuclear submarine is it’s battery ? I was born on the Quanset Point naval base in Rhode Island, but spent my very early life In New London, CT.

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