Steamship rate hikes broached

Vessel names: Jaws, Moby Dick, Pinkletink out; Noepe, Menemsha, Madaket are possibilities.

These folks are unlikely to ever help tie up the “Scrimshaw” but may tie up the "Moshup" one day. — Rich Saltzberg

The Steamship Authority’s port council was informed Tuesday that fare hikes are on the table due to rising fuel costs and other inflationary matters.

For the Vineyard route, SSA treasurer Mark Rozum proposed an increase of $3 to $5 for standard-fare vehicles under 20 feet (one-way), $5 on peak Fridays and weekends, $1.50 to excursion rates (one-way), an 8 percent increase to vehicles 20 feet and longer, 50 cents for single-ticket passengers, $4 for a 10-ride pass, $9 for a 46-ride commuter pass, and parking hikes too. 

Fares on the Nantucket route are also slated to rise.

The port council didn’t take a vote on the increases. However, they will go before the SSA board, Rozum said, and will include any intervening modifications to the figures. Rozum said some open houses will be held, such as in years past, so folks can comment on the increases. 

Port council chair John Cahill asked if Rozum could knock 50 cents off the excursion fare hike. Rozum agreed to do so, and suggested several offsets were possible to make that happen.

Fairhaven member Mark Rees asked if “a history of the rates” could be provided at the next meeting. SSA general manager Robert Davis said a five-year look back could be put together. 

The rate hike proposals come as the waterside portion of the Woods Hole terminal project is 38 percent over budget. Originally contracted at $43.1 million, waterside work topped out at $59.4 million. The SSA board also authorized up to $1.5 million to revitalize the freight ferry Katama, which has suffered significant steel deterioration. Meanwhile, the freight ferry Gay Head also needed emergency repairs after a crack opened up in its hull. Both vessels are close to the end of their usable lives, and will be replaced by two retrofitted offshore supply vessels.

Driscoll later told The Times the work on the two freight vessels was necessary to keep them safe and seaworthy. “We still need these vessels in play before the new vessels arrive,” Driscoll said. 

The council received an update on the two new vessels, Lode Star and Shooting Star, previously authorized for purchase at $11.3 million. During a drydock inspection at Conrad Shipyard, SSA director of marine operations Mark Amundsen said no “significant” issues were discovered on either vessel. Amundsen was especially pleased with the exterior condition of the vessels, describing the hull coatings as “amazing” and “fantastic.” Davis said a closing is set for Sept. 23. Rozum said the SSA secured a note rate of 2.14 percent from the Jefferies Group. As to the naming of the vessel, Davis said under the enabling act, the SSA had 30 days to name newly acquired ferries, and that following a naming competition, Driscoll received a bevy of names that were reduced to nine prospects. Noepe with 295 competition entries, Wampanoag with 162 entries, Aquinnah with 143 entries, Moshup with 102 entries, Menemsha with 80 entries, Madaket with 39 entries, Siasconset with 15 entries, New Bedford with 18 entries, and Hyannis with 13 entries. 

Both at the meeting and in his report, Driscoll noted many suggestions had to be discarded. 

“In determining the names to be included,” his report states, “staff was mindful of the most popular names submitted as part of the contest, the authority’s tradition of naming vessels after regions from the authority’s communities, and a balance of potential names from each of the five port communities. Staff appreciates, but ultimately must sadly recommend rejecting, various references to Jaws that were submitted, as well as Boaty McBoatface, Ferry McFerryface, and Steamy McSteamface. Staff also declined to put forth a popular pairing, East Chop and West Chop, for fear of creating confusion with radar markings, and potential confusion in case of emergency.”

Driscoll said overall, “more than 8,200 entries were received that included more than 9,000 name suggestions.”

Driscoll said staff sifted through the entries and came up with a short list. 

Other names excluded included Scrimshaw, Piping Plover, Pinkletink, Queequeg, Cape Codder, and Moby Dick.

Nantucket council member Nathaniel Lowell asked if Monomoy could be added to the shortlist of names. Driscoll had no problem with that. Driscoll asked the council members to send any other name suggestions they have to him in the next two weeks so they can be presented to the board. Contest winners for the two vessels’ names will get a $250 gift certificate. Driscoll later told The Times the names of all those who suggested a given name will essentially be drawn from a hat to select a winner. 


  1. No increases on rates for the MV MBTA. If anything they should be decreased. Nobody in management deserves a pay raise with the issues that have transpired. We should not have to pay for errors made with the taj mahal that is certainly not needed in Woods Hole.
    Start the plans for a tunnel

  2. But I thought inflation was transitory? ( wink wink). They should wait it out to see what the future brings because once they increase fees, they never go down!

  3. Whaaaat ? A rate INCREASE for SSA ? No way ! With all the foolish and costly changes to Terminal plans, boats leaving half full with cars left standing in line, an absurd reservation and standby system, unexplained random boat cancellations and rude dock workers there is no grounds for ANY rate increase ! Fuel prices ? On the way down again and if the geniuses in Woods Hole signed a new fuel contract recently they should be fired, period. Don’t sheepishly
    hide behind the wave of inflation as your “cover”………….

  4. Utter nonsense! Malkin, please explain how Davis gets glowing reviews and a raise for his incompetence while we have to pay more to cover the cost of the failures? BTW fuel prices are falling so that excuse to raise rates is yet another lie!

  5. We’re basically at the whim of the SSA as island residents, aren’t we? If they’re going to raise the fares I suggest they get WORKING wifi on all boats (I believe i wrote a letter to them five years ago about that) and come up with a better way to handle reservations- if there are no reservations available when I call at 7:30am, how do I get a boat from the waitlist an hour later? Pay more, get more, please. Especially when what we’re asking for is not so much.

  6. How about an update on the broken reservation management system before a rate increase gets approved? How many ferries this summer left WH or MV partially full while many of us couldn’t book a reservation online –because the system said no reservations were available? Would we need a rate increase if the hundreds of empty spaces had been able to be booked by Islanders or visitors? I tried several times this summer to take my car off island but no reservations were available; then Islander Talk is filled with pics of partially filled boats on the day I tried to travel. I don’t buy that dozens upon dozens of cars/trucks didn’t show up or did last minute cancels. If so, show us the actual number of no shows/cancels. There’s a big hole in the SSA’s reservation bucket, and it should be patched before they come looking for more money.

    • Completely agree with you. The SSA is broken and all of their missteps need to be addressed and remediated before another increase is even considered.

  7. Ferry names
    * in the tradition of using former names
    and Moship is an intentional play on Moshup

  8. Sounds like the hole MBTA terbokel
    A lot of finger pointing with no results.
    It’s sickening. Rase the taxes, rase the rates. But still no results. What is happening? We the tax payers have to pay for all the mistakes of others. If I as a contractor make a mistake. I have to pay for it. Where is the responsibility of these people?……..

  9. Dear God! Where is the compassion and decency? Why so much anger? Is it because of the dysfunction in Washington that is tearing this country apart? Is it about elected officials of both parties not doing their jobs, but worrying about their next election? These immigrants could be your family, your neighbors or your friends family, or your communities family! They are fleeing countries of violence, persecution, fear for their lives. The children! The innocents. The parents wanting to save them from lives of broken dreams to make something of themselves, their futures. Yes, their landing here could be a burden. But, the Vineyard has always been a nurturing, caring place. Forget the politics. Forget the “gotcha” moments. Just deal with a humanitarian crisis dealing with “people.” Be gracious. Save the anger where it’s due…and not at these human beings that could be any one of us!

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