With a Steamship Authority ferry diversion off the table, Beach Road Weekend promoter Adam Epstein has cobbled together a series of charter ferry services to accommodate concertgoers leaving the Island after each of the three-day concerts, which are scheduled Aug. 26-28.
One of those charter services is the Cape & Islands Transport Inc., which runs the Pied Piper and Sandpiper passenger ferries from Falmouth to Edgartown. A license agreement to offer the Beach Road Weekend charter service is on the SSA board agenda for Tuesday. On the concert nights, the ferries would do additional runs between Falmouth and Tisbury Wharf in Vineyard Haven where the concerts are being held.
“I’m doing what they said,” Epstein said of the charter services. “I’m happy to see the Steamship Authority is considering the request.”
The private charters would essentially be four round trips and would not accept other passengers. Some passengers will still use the SSA ferries in Oak Bluffs at 8:30 pm and in Vineyard Haven at 9:30 pm, but those who select the charters would be guaranteed seats. The Pied Piper and Sand Piper ferries have a combined capacity of 500.
In addition, HyLine is offering a ferry to Hyannis at 9:30 pm each night and SeaStreak, out of New Bedford is offering a ferry at 10:30 pm.
Sean Driscoll, a spokesman for the SSA, the SeaStreak and HyLine trips don’t require approvals. “SeaStreak’s license permits them to run the extra trip. Hyline is delaying a trip, not running extra service, so they did not require approval.”
Epstein, who got significant pushback to the idea of having the SSA’s 8:30 pm ferry diverted from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven to accommodate concertgoers. Despite reaching out to port council member John Cahill in February and asking Cahill to loop in SSA board member James Malkin, the SSA board rejected the diversions by consensus saying the request was coming too late in the process. The proposal was sent to Oak Bluffs select board, but that board took a pass on making a decision and put it back in the SSA’s hands.
Since then, Epstein said he’s worked diligently to help concertgoers without accommodations on Island get back to the mainland. “This will give our customers some certainty,” he said.