Steamship Prepares for Holiday and Phase 3 Ridership Increases

HYANNIS – The Steamship Authority said that it is prepared for a ridership increase over the holiday weekend and into Phase 3 of reopening, a change from the last few months’ downward trends.

Communications Director Sean Driscoll said that there has been a recent upward trend in traffic, though numbers are still down compared to 2019.

“We have seen more people traveling with us and that’s all for the better in terms of our overall financial situation,” said Driscoll.

“There has been an upward trend that we are pleased to see.”

Recently, a supplemental budget bill authorized state funding to assist the Steamship Authority amid falling revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driscoll said that while passenger traffic is difficult to predict, vehicle reservations are full through the weekend, which he adds is typical for the holiday and a good sign for the Authority.

He said that the only remaining spaces are late in the evening and early the day after.

“That’s usually when no one wants to travel, either during fireworks or immediately after fireworks, even though we’re not having the shows this year. They’re not a popular time to travel and that’s the only real openings we have,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll said that as Phase 3 begins, there will be more for visitors to do on the islands, which will likely drive more increases in ridership.

“There’s more to do for day trippers and more opportunities for shopping and restaurants and the like. We have been seeing an increase for both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket since things are starting to open up a little bit more,” said Driscoll.

According to Driscoll, passenger numbers could “change on a dime” as the pandemic continues, but the Steamship Authority is doing its best to get the word out about the precautions that it is taking to ensure public safety.

“There’s so many unknowns right now in the world of COVID that things could certainly change on us. But so far, in this early part of the summer there’s been a lot of encouraging signs for us,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll said that safety precautions within the Authority include requiring all passengers to wear masks or face coverings.

The Authority has also increased cleaning protocols for terminals, buses, and ferries in between trips, alongside maintaining plenty of soap and water on board as well as hand sanitizer.

Driscoll said that social distancing is the most important thing that the Steamship Authority is asking of its passengers, but also said it’s not always easy to maintain.

“It is a little challenging now there’s more people travelling, which makes that mask wearing even more important. It’s a little bit of a challenge to keep that social distancing up some times especially when you’re coming on or leaving the ferries, so those face masks are the way to help protect yourself in those situations,”

According to Driscoll, all of the Authority’s safety precautions will be maintained into Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s reopening.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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