SSA’s decisions raise questions


To the Editor:

What are we learning about the Steamship Authority? What is its vision to provide optimal services for its passengers? What is its concept of economy? Does the SSA attempt to compare itself with other ferry services? 

 Recently Washington State initiated a new ferry service between downtown Seattle and Southworth. The run is 14.8 miles, takes 26 minutes, and costs $7.10 for a round-trip. 

The Steamship Authority runs ferries between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven. The run is 8.7 miles, takes 45 minutes, and costs $9.50, or $19 round-trip. 

While the cost of the service in Washington State is low in part because of subsidies, it has been the active decision of the SSA to reject the idea of subsidies. I assume the rejection is because the SSA wants to avoid any possibility of oversight that might come with receiving subsidies. Again, looking out for itself first. 

Other notable differences: 

The SSA ferry Woods Hole, ordered in 2014, cost $40.4 million. 

The new Seattle ferry, which just went online, cost $12.5 million. 

Other locations running fast boats, to the great delight of passengers, are in the San Francisco Bay area: the San Francisco Bay Ferry service, which runs among Vallejo, Oakland, Alameda, San Francisco, and South San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Ferry, with routes out of Larkspur, Sausalito, and San Francisco. 

How can the SSA justify these remarkable and outrageous differences? 

It appears that the Steamship Authority is not concerned about providing good, fast, and economical service to its passengers. Why does it persist in buying very expensive boats that are not only very expensive to operate but very environmentally polluting? 

Will the Steamship Authority ever consider progressing in its use of technology, not just in terms of purchasing more cost-effective boats, but going to electric boats and advancing its communications and ticketing, streamlining its operations, stopping its massive spending on advertising that only creates more traffic with which it can not keep up? Is the Steamship Authority working for, or listening to, anyone but itself? 

What age is the SSA working in, and for whose benefit is it working? 

Perhaps the Vineyard and other residents might ask the SSA to address and justify these facts. 


Damien Kuffler
Woods Hole