Hack exposes SSA’s reservation system


To the Editor:

The Steamship Authority hack and its inability to respond shows an unacceptable level of incompetence with respect to its online services, and supports eliminating the reservation system altogether. It has taken a week for the Authority to simply post a message stating that

all travel is standby until the hack is resolved.

The online interface of the website, which was always cumbersome, has not changed in many years, suggesting underperforming IT staff, and perhaps a low priority at the top level of administration. While other transit systems’ digital interfaces, and wireless functionality I

might add, have improved dramatically over the past 10 years, it seems the Steamship Authority hasn’t improved at all. For many years, phone calls fell on busy signals rather than queues, travelers to Boston had to wait for the Peter Pan Bus wireless because access during the

crossing was always hit-or-miss, and trying to figure out how the waitlist system online worked was useless. The stagnation we see on the site suggests that it may have been behind in security efforts as well.

It’s time to adopt the sensible model that Seattle ferry users have used for decades successfully, and eliminate the reservation system altogether. It apparently can work, since for the past week, that is essentially what we have. Consider the cost savings of labor and facilities at the call centers and for ticket takers. It would make travel much less stressful, and at least there would be no risk of future hack-related disruptions.

Ken Bailey
West Tisbury