April Steamship Authority traffic was down slightly from the same period last year, though summer numbers are showing improvement.
At the Steamship Authority board of governors meeting Tuesday in Nantucket, general manager Wayne Lamson said April passenger traffic was down 3.3 per cent from April 2012, while car traffic was down 7.4 per cent. The number of trucks carried went up 6.7 per cent.
Through April, year-to-date passenger traffic was down 4.2 per cent overall from the same period last year, while automobile traffic was down 4.7 per cent.
Mr. Lamson reported a net operating loss of $1.2 million for April, and a year-to-date loss of just over $1 million.
But he said it was too early to worry about those numbers, noting that May numbers were more positive and passenger traffic for the first week of June was up almost 14 per cent. Automobile and truck traffic is also up for the first week of June, he added.
In other business, the governors got the first look at the proposed operating schedule for winter and spring 2014. Mr. Lamson said the winter schedule will start one day later than last year, on Jan. 2, and end four days later, on April 13. The proposed ferry schedule is similar to last year, he said, except the freight boat Sankaty will run extra trips between Woods Hole and the Vineyard on Fridays and Sundays.
Martha’s Vineyard, the Eagle, Governor, Sankaty and Iyanough are each scheduled to be dry-docked for repairs next year.
Mr. Lamson gave a brief update about the authority’s long awaited website, which has been delayed. He said that initial issues were being worked out and the new website will launch as soon as possible.
The governors gave Mr. Lamson mostly high marks during his annual performance review. “I think overall his performance is outstanding ,” Falmouth governor Robert S. Marshall said. “The only disappointment that I personally feel is over this website issue. I think the ball was dropped at every level from the point at which we interviewed a provider to today, and unfortunately the buck stops at the top.”
Beyond that, he said, “I think the Steamship Authority overall is well served . . . an outstanding organization run by an outstanding manager.”
Other governors echoed Mr. Marshall’s sentiments.
“Thank you for those kind words,” Mr. Lamson said. “We operate as a team, so I’m fortunate to have been able to work with a lot of good people.”
The meeting at the Nantucket Whaling Museum began with a remembrance of H. Flint Ranney, the longtime Steamship governor from Nantucket who died last December. The Steamship Authority presented an engraved chair to Mr. Ranney’s family, with his wife, Charron (Corky), and his daughter, Libby Gibson, the Nantucket town manager, in attendance. Mr. Ranney’s son, Robert, is now the Nantucket governor and the chairman of the board.
“We’d like to present this gift as a token of appreciation and a lasting reminder of time spent with us,” Mr. Lamson said.
“On behalf of Flint’s family, thank you so much for remembering him with the chair. We really appreciate it,” Mrs. Ranney said.
At the end of the meeting, Martha’s Vineyard governor Marc Hanover told the board that the Steamship Authority will be honored by the rotary in Edgartown’s Fourth of July parade with a float depicting the original Island Home.
“I expect pictures,” Mr. Ranney said.
“They want you to ride on the float, in costume,” Mr. Hanover responded.