To the Editor:
I write from Woods Hole to my Vineyard neighbors about the significant cost overruns of the Woods Hole Steamship Authority construction project, and the opportunity we have to scale down the oversized Taj Mahal terminal now in the design stage. The huge existing overruns directly affect your wallet through future fare increases, and so I suggest now is the time to insist on a scaled-down terminal building to recoup some of the current overspending.
With the latest cost overrun approved this summer, all of the board members except the Falmouth representative wrung their hands and said, “We can’t have this anymore,” but then voted to approve them. We can do better.
If the SSA is to bend the cost curve back into reality, they will only listen to Vineyard residents whose pocketbooks are at stake. All that needs to be asked is to have the SSA approach the terminal building like your family budget: If you overspend your family budget in one month, then the next month you look at where you can cut things you want to have, and focus on must-haves.
Be prepared, however, for the SSA to tell you the current proposed size can’t be cut any further. But they said this before when they first proposed a two-story building, only to find a way to come back with a one-story building proposal.
The problem is that even now, the proposed building is way too large. Filled with “want-to-haves” labeled as “must-haves,” almost half of the building footprint is dedicated to a large, unnecessary atrium and waiting room, and lots of ticket booths, even though ticketing has moved online. The rest of the building consists of many unnecessary back rooms. If you want to see the size terminal that is really needed, come to Woods Hole, and be surprised to watch how little-used the current terminal is.
Finally, please remember that the SSA is a state-chartered monopoly, immune from price competition, competing operators, and stakeholder issues — unless people raise their voices loudly. Again, this is about your money in increased SSA fares. Please insist the proposed Woods Hole terminal be significantly reduced in size, or better yet, elevate the existing temporary terminal to conform with floodplain requirements and call it a day.