The Steamship Authority website was back up and running Thursday evening after being down for most of the opening day for coveted summer car reservations, sparking a flurry of emails and social media posts from stymied travelers looking to plan their summer trips to Martha’s Vineyard.

The website was operating normally at about 5 p.m. Thursday, according to SSA general manager Bob Davis.

Mr. Davis said high traffic was not the problem. "We've handled that volume in the past," he told the Gazette. "We believe it was a combination of a hardware issue as well as a setting was just a combination of items, it dragged the system down to a crawl."

Mr. Davis said the website goes down each  night for a period of time for backup processing, and it appeared the website did not go back into operation as it should on Thursday morning. He said it became clear there was an issue early Thursday morning.

Reservations for nonresident boat trips between May 11 and Oct. 11 opened on Thursday online and through the mail. Facebook and Twitter were awash in comments from frustrated would-be travelers to the Island.

Mr. Davis said he and his staff heard from frustrated customers. "The technicians, the programmers, the consultants, everyone was working furiously. Unfortunately we didn't do a good job in terms of getting notices out to people. So that will be something to look into."

"The staff and reservation offices were dealing with quite a few calls," he added. "Part of it is people didn't know if it was their connection." 

In an emailed statement, Mr. Davis apologized and thanked customers for their patience. Customers were encouraged to try to retry the booking process online.

The general manager said ferry service Thursday was affected as well because staff did not have access needed for vehicle ticketing, and at times tickets had to be written out instead of printed.