Steamship Authority Planning Schedule Changes

M/V Nantucket

WOODS HOLE – The Steamship Authority has announced some changes to their upcoming winter and early spring schedules.

Among the changes recommended to the board is the elimination of the 5:30 AM from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard, by instead berthing the vessel M/V Woods Hole on island.

The first freight trip out of Falmouth will now be at 6:30, the Authority will still offer a 6 AM ferry to accommodate commuters.

The move is an effort to appease residents of Woods Hole, dozens of whom signed a petition seeking the authority make changes in order to reduce traffic noise from large trucks through residential streets during the early morning hours.

“The board in the past has commented that we need to be good neighbors and we need to be considerate of the people in the area,” said Steamship Authority General Manager Robert Davis, “so when we went back and looked at that schedule and realized that by moving [the 5:30 ferry] back to 6:30 during that time period the impact wasn’t going to be that great in terms of getting the goods and services over to the island, so it was a concession that we recommended to our board.”

The Steamship Authority’s winter and early spring schedule runs from January through May 10th.

The Authority is also in the process of considering the feasibility of hiring a private freight ferry service who could operate a route between New Bedford and the Vineyard.

The authority has heard support for the plan from both potential users and operators of the potential service and last year hired a consultant to look into the matter.

The route had previously been operated by the Steamship Authority but was eliminated in 2002 as revenues never kept pace with expenses.

Davis says that the Authority has no interest in themselves returning to New Bedford.

“We determined that for any service to be operating out of there from an economic sense, our sense, The Steamship Authority shouldn’t have to be footing the bill for that additional service because there are a lot of infrastructure needs that have to be addressed over in New Bedford to make it viable,” he said.

Those infrastructure issues include the need for a pier to operate from. The Steamship Authority had been unable to reach an agreement with the New Bedford Harbor Develop Commission for continued use of the Sate Pier prior to shutting down service 15 years ago.

Davis has said that the pursuit of freight ferry service between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard, operated by a third party, is among his written goas for the upcoming year.

By DAVID BEATTY, Cape NewsCenter

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