The Steamship Authority will continue to explore possible new routes between the Vineyard and New Bedford — one for barging trash and another for freight ferry service, both using private contractors.

Feasibility studies are under way for both and were discussed at the monthly boat line meeting in Hyannis last week.

SSA treasurer/comptroller Bob Davis said that talks have begun with Ralph Packer and leaders at the Oak Bluffs/Vineyard Haven trash district about developing a program to barge some solid waste from Vineyard Haven to New Bedford. The boat line has hired the national environmental consulting group Tetra Tech to study the issue. Currently all the Island’s solid waste is shipped off Island in container trucks on freight ferries. But solid waste handling is complicated by the fact that there is no single regional refuse disposal program. Four of the six towns handle trash disposal and recycling through the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District, while Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven operate their own independent two-town program.

Mr. Davis said about half the trash that is sent off Island comes from Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. “The idea is to get the trash off the ferries,” he said of the early-stage plan to switch to barging using Mr. Packer’s company, which operates terminals in Vineyard Haven and New Bedford. The possibility of baling trash before it is transported is under discussion, Mr. Davis said. He also said consultants will be looking at a number of logistical issues including questions of efficiency — for example, he said, the solid waste container trucks are often used to backhaul other materials such as stone or landscaping materials on the return trip to the Island. “So will it really be taking trucks off the ferries — that is one question,” he said.

The study comes as the four-town refuse district embarks on a long-planned $2.5 million expansion at its central transfer station in Edgartown. Funding for the project cleared town meeting hurdles this month after two years of delays. Mr. Davis said while the initial discussions are with Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, he expects there will eventually be talks with the larger four-town district as well.

The treasurer/comptroller will take over as general manager at the SSA after Wayne Lamson retires in June.

Meanwhile, a second preliminary study will again explore the feasibility of running freight between the Vineyard and New Bedford using a private carrier.

The boat line has hired Craig Johnson of Flagship Management to lead the study. Mr. Johnson was previously with Seabulk Hvide, the company that ran a two-year pilot freight program between the Vineyard and New Bedford in 2000 and 2001. That pilot concluded the freight route was not economically feasible.

Mr. Davis said the new study will include an examination of infrastructure in New Bedford. “There are questions about the conditions of the facilities . . . our initial understanding is that some work will be required,” he said.

Both studies are expected to take three months to complete.