SSA needs stronger governance


To the Editor:

I recently read with dismay the comment attributed to Steamship Authority (SSA) board member Robert Jones that by allowing another company to bring freight to Nantucket, “we are going to lose dollars no matter what.” I am deeply concerned by this comment for two reasons: I believe the reason for allowing AGM to move freight from New Bedford to Nantucket is because there is no more capacity out of Hyannis. How can the SSA lose money when they don’t have the capacity to handle the load?

Secondly, the very notion that the goal of the SSA is to maximize dollars is misguided. Under an outdated Enabling Act, the SSA exists as a lifeline service, not a revenue-maximizing entity. As such, the SSA should offer the required level of service at the lowest possible operating cost, ensuring reliable, safe, and sustainable operations.

The strategic vision of the SSA should be to optimize service level attainment, cost management, risk mitigation, and sustainable operations. Given that the SSA is also the licensing entity for other commercial carriers, the very notion that the SSA board’s primary concern is revenue maximization without regard for service level, risk, cost, and reliability is yet another example of why the Enabling Act is flawed.

Citizens on both sides of the Sounds should work together to improve the SSA. We all need this service to be successful, and to operate in our collective best interests. Together, we can create stronger governance that improves service levels, drives down costs, reduces operational risks, and reduces the negative impact of growth on mainland ports. It is clear to me that we need stronger governance through a more modern Enabling Act. By the way, a little competition, smartly handled, would benefit us all.

We can do this!


Stephen Laster