SSA jury-rigs parcel service ferry space

The freight Sankaty in Hyannis Inner Harbor — the Steamship Authority's gateway to Nantucket. — Rich Saltzberg

Updated March 18

The Vineyard managed not to get caught in the reservations undertow that swept up United Parcel Service (UPS) after it failed to make timely truck reservations for the upcoming summer Steamship Authority ferry crossings on the Nantucket route. The SSA board voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow ferry line staff to:

  • Add the carrier to trips with available space
  • Review current allocations for opportunities to consolidate spaces to accommodate the shipper’s vehicles
  • Review shipper’s existing reservations versus deck space availability to identify upsizing options
  • Prioritize the shipper to the top of the waitlist to adjust this carrier’s unfulfilled reservation requests for the 2022 summer season

SSA general manager Robert Davis explained ahead of the vote that what he described as a “common carrier” made its reservations late and therefore didn’t get all the truck space it needed on the Nantucket route. Davis said the carrier’s smaller-size trucks got space, but the larger trucks didn’t. The Vineyard, however, was spared the logistics sting Nantucket received. David said the carrier got the space it wanted, though not necessarily at the times it had wished. 

The UPS reservation problems on Nantucket were first reported by the Nantucket Current.

The reduction in reservations “has the potential to impact a significant number of individuals as well as businesses on the Nantucket route, because this carrier delivers to individual homes and businesses on almost a daily basis,” Davis told the board.

Davis didn’t name the carrier. When asked by the Vineyard Gazette if the carrier was UPS, Davis replied, “It was a large common carrier.”

Davis said the SSA isn’t intending to displace existing reservations to aid the carrier. 

“I’m in favor of this,” Nantucket board member Robert Ranney said of the accommodations the SSA proposed for UPS. 

Ranney asked what could be put in place to prevent a repeat of the problem. 

Davis said while staff had discussed the subject, whatever the carrier intends, “that’s up to them.”

Davis said the SSA planned on providing notices as the reservation deadline approaches. 

A UPS driver summed the situation up to the Nantucket Current so succinctly, the outlet used the quote in its headline: “We’re screwed.”

Updated to correct time period when the carrier’s reservations will be lacking.