SSA delays summer reservation rollout over tech issues

No new dates have been announced yet.

Summer reservations for the Vineyard were delayed. —Eunki Seonwoo

Updated Jan. 23

The Steamship Authority is pushing back the dates to make summer vehicle reservations due to technical issues.

The openings of summer vehicle reservations for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard had been scheduled for Jan. 23 and Jan. 30, respectively. While the Head Start reservation period will continue through Monday as planned, no new dates for summer reservations have been announced.

SSA general manager Robert B. Davis said in a statement that they’ll wait to announce a date until an internal investigation is complete.

Davis said the delay will allow the SSA to conduct more testing and work out technical problems that were present during the Head Start rollout.

“Each year our IT team takes preparing for these days very seriously, and they have been hard at work for several weeks performing multiple load tests of our reservation process and testing our waiting room product,” Davis is quoted in a release sent out by the Steamship Authority Friday afternoon. “That preparation did not indicate there would be any issues for this week’s reservation openings.

“I want to be completely sure we have identified and addressed any remaining issues before we make the decision to open reservations,” Davis continued. “These reservation opening days are the start of our customer’s summertime journey with us, and we always strive to make it as smooth a process as possible. We look forward to announcing new opening dates to our customers as soon as possible.”

Tech issues were present early into the Headstart reservation period, which was scheduled to last from Tuesday, Jan. 16, to Monday, Jan. 22.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, numerous people had issues with the SSA website when trying to make reservations. By 12:45 pm, the SSA had turned off its virtual waiting room, which boosted transaction volumes and seemed to have solved the problem. However, the SSA announced at 5 pm that there were further issues to be resolved.

“Upon further investigation and review, the Steamship Authority’s IT team, along with the assistance of system vendors, have determined today’s booking issues were related to connectivity issues on a subset of our web servers,” the update reads. “We believe the issue has been resolved, and we believe the booking process is now running normally. Additional testing of the servers will be done overnight, and senior management will review the results Friday and determine what additional steps, if any, need to be taken prior to the general openings.”

The following day, the SSA would announce the delay of the summer reservations.

“The Steamship Authority’s IT team is hard at work diagnosing and addressing the issues involved, and once our team has completed its work we will announce new summer reservation opening dates,” the post reads in part. “We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and thank you for your patience.”

The SSA had no further update as of Monday, Jan. 22.

“We are continuing our internal review and will announce new dates when that is complete,” SSA spokesperson Sean Driscoll told The Times in a text. “I don’t have a timeline.”

The SSA also caught a glitch during the Headstart reservations on Tuesday, Jan. 16, when customers transferred non-transferable tickets while not clearing their cache. “We’re working to resolve that and we’ll be notifying those customers that those reservations … need to be put to their original customer or be canceled [with] no penalties,” SSA general manager Robert Davis said to SSA officials during a Tuesday morning meeting, adding that 4,800 transactions were completed in the first two hours of reservations opening.

Last year’s reservation system rollout experienced serious technical issues as customers had to wait long periods of time to make a reservation. Meantime, the ferry service has delayed the rollout of a new website until after the opening of reservations.


  1. I’ve asked before: why is the SSA reinventing the wheel? Couldn’t an airline reservatoion system be utilized to fit the reservations for it? It seems to me there are enough variations in an airline schedule system that it could be modified to fit the SSA.

    • Speaking of which, why not use dynamic pricing, like airlines, theaters, hotels etc. do? Let summer people who want to make last-minute reservations for the 4th of July pay maybe $500 for that last slot. But at least there would be availability. And if you’re willing to travel at off-hours, maybe you’re only payine $30. (Even with dynamic pricing, there could still be an additional savings for year-round residents.)

      This would be a win-win for everyone. That’s why the rest of the world does it these days.

    • Which airline reservation system should they adopt?

      Airlines have hundreds of airplanes and thousands of pilots.
      Significant aircraft repairs can be cleared in hours, not weeks.

  2. It’s called stand by.
    It worked,until someone thought to reserve all the boats through the summer months.

Comments are closed.