SSA board ignores Falmouth freight complaints


To the Editor:
The Steamship Authority continues its scorched-earth approach for freight truck scheduling through Falmouth and Woods Hole neighborhoods.

Last month the Steamship Authority board approved its Section 15A Report by a vote of 3 to 1. The report continued the current shipping schedule that includes 5:30 am trips out of Woods Hole from May through October. At a June public hearing about these predawn freight trucks passing through Falmouth and Woods Hole, requested by 160 Falmouth residents, extensive testimony was presented showing environmental and public health damages caused by these trips.

The board’s approval of the 15A Report represents yet another dismissal of Falmouth residents’ longstanding request to postpone predawn trips until later in the day. Falmouth residents have petitioned for this change in schedule each year for the past six years.
In 2023 the Steamship Authority’s freight trucks will again disrupt the lives of Falmouth children, families, and neighbors prior to 5 am, and on a daily basis. The health impacts of such regular sleep disruption are well-documented.

In addition to the controversial 5:30 am freight boat, the Steamship Authority currently has seven (7) other runs carrying freight from Woods Hole to the Vineyard between 6 and 8:35 am. Every year we ask, how can seven ferries carrying freight before 8:35 am not be adequate for delivering time-sensitive material to the Vineyard with an arrival time of 9:30 am?

Later in the day there are 24 additional ferry runs leaving from Woods Hole for the Vineyard that can carry freight. There is even an unused time slot in the early afternoon when a freight boat is, according to the SSA, “available to operate, if needed” from Woods Hole. This is according to the 2023 SSA schedule.

Vineyard SSA board appointee James Malkin, Nantucket appointee Robert Ranney, and Barnstable appointee Robert Jones voted to approve the 15A Report and predawn freight schedule from Woods Hole; Falmouth SSA appointee Peter Jeffrey voted no; New Bedford appointee Moira Tierney was absent.

Mr. Malkin’s vote on the 15A Report determined the outcome of the board’s vote on the 5:30 am freight boat schedule for 2023. Nantucket and Barnstable SSA board members voted with Mr. Malkin out of solidarity. Had Mr. Malkin voted to move 5:30 am freight until later in the day, Mr. Ranney and Mr. Jones would most likely have joined him.
Over the years Falmouth residents have heard support from and solidarity with many Vineyard residents and business leaders concerning Falmouth residents’ plight over predawn freight truck scheduling. We have not heard that support from Mr. Malkin.
In a new development, the Steamship Authority has purchased two replacement freight vessels whose capacity will permit 25 percent more volume for trucks and cars to be carried to and from the islands in 2023, in comparison with the freight vessels they are replacing.

With such new freight boat capacity for 2023, why does Mr. Malkin continue to dismiss the freight truck predawn scheduling concerns of the Vineyard’s closest neighbors in Falmouth and Woods Hole? It is fundamentally unfair for our community to shoulder an inordinately large burden in order to support the needs of Vineyard residents and businesses.

Nat Trumbull
Woods Hole