Vineyard Steamship Authority governor Marc Hanover this week asked boat line senior managers to take the lead in exploring the feasibility of getting trash off the ferries and shipping it to New Bedford via private barge.

At the December meeting in Falmouth Tuesday morning, Mr. Hanover, who is board chairman, asked staff to focus on a new trash service rather than continue to evaluate whether new freight service is feasible.

“I would rather management spent time on this now,” Mr. Hanover said. “I’m disappointed it hasn’t been done sooner. The towns have not taken a leadership role in this, and I think we need to.”

Mr. Hanover said he, port council member George Balco who lives in Vineyard Haven, SSA general manager Wayne Lamson and general counsel Steve Sayer had preliminary discussions with R.M. Packer Company on Monday about barging trash off the Island.

Mr. Balco said there may be a way to utilize barges which currently return to New Bedford empty after hauling freight to the Island.

“The town [Vineyard Haven] is very eager to go ahead with it,” said Mr. Balco. “We don’t know how long it’s going to take to put it all together.”

For the past two years, town officials in Tisbury and Oak Bluffs have explored barging trash off the Island rather than trucking it off on the ferry. Preliminary study concluded that a trash-only service was far from economically feasible, but a combination trash and freight service might be cost effective.

Falmouth governor Elizabeth Gladfelter has asked for a study of new freight service to New Bedford, with an eye toward reducing truck traffic and complaints on the roads leading to the Woods Hole terminal.

“I see trash as a positive first step,” Ms. Gladfelter said Tuesday. “But I would also like to direct the administration to pursue the idea of private [freight] carriers.”

New Bedford member Moira Tierney asked for a global analysis without limiting the study to private carriers.

“I’m concerned that the Steamship Authority may be assigning potential sources of revenue and jobs and growth to private carriers,” she said.

Freight service between the Vineyard and new Bedford has been studied before. The SSA ran a pilot program for two years from 2000 to 2002, and found revenues from the service covered between 15 and 22 per cent of the cost.

In 2012 another feasibility study was done and concluded it would not be financially viable for the boat line to provide the service. The SSA is chartered to provide dependable year-round service to the residents of both Islands and operates without state and federal subsidies.

This week staff provided a 13-page document with numerous operational and policy issues that should be decided as part of the freight analysis. But Mr. Hanover urged a simpler approach focused on the feasibility of using barges to haul trash.

“I think this is a huge undertaking, and I’m concerned about the time it’s going to take management to do this,” he said of the freight study. “There’s an easier way to do it.”

Also Tuesday, Mr. Lamson updated the board on construction of the new ferry Woods Hole. Conrad Industries, the Louisiana company that is building the new ferry, notified the boat line in November that due to delays beyond its control, the ferry would be delivered 70 days late. The shipyard has since revised that estimate to a one-month delay.

Mr. Lamson and director of engineering Carl Walker visited the Louisiana shipyard last week. “The shipyard continues to be concerned,” Mr. Lamson said. “During our visit we raised a number of questions about some of the assumptions being used for the remaining construction schedule.

The ferry, which is being built to carry cars, passengers and freight, is scheduled to ply the route between Woods Hole and Oak Bluffs beginning next summer. It was due to be delivered by April 29.

Passenger and vehicle traffic continues to grow, according to SSA reports.

The number of passengers traveling to Martha’s Vineyard in October increased 1.7 per cent. The number of automobiles rose 3.6 per cent. The number of freight trucks rose 3.7 per cent.