Bowing to public pressure, Steamship Authority governors voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to immediately seek a top-to-bottom independent outside review of boat line operations.

The vote came at packed meeting in the Performing Arts Center where more than 200 Islanders turned out to vent their frustration and anger over the events of the past few months, which have included a record number of breakdowns and cancellations on the Vineyard route.

SSA general manager Bob Davis (left) and Vineyard governor Marc Hanover. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Board members said a request for proposals (RFP) would be drafted by Friday seeking bids from outside consultants for a review of all aspects of SSA operations, including management structure, internet technology, communications and fleet maintenance.

General manager Bob Davis, Vineyard SSA governor Marc Hanover and New Bedford governor Maura Tierney will review the proposals and develop a recommendation in time for the June 19 board meeting.

“The public pushed for this,” Oak Bluffs resident and former selectman Todd Rebello told the board.

“Everyone in this room wants the same thing — we want reliable boats, but some of us disagree on how to get there,” said Vineyard SSA governor Marc Hanover at the outset. “It’s your Steamship Authority.”

Last month, Mr. Hanover had solicited a proposal from McKinsey and Company, a global consulting firm, for an independent review. The proposal came with a $500,000 price tag, and three of the four other boat line governors said they thought it was too costly. Mr. Davis was directed to develop an alternative plan of remediation.

On Tuesday that plan was effectively shelved.

Nantucket governor Rob Ranney: “I’m not sitting here not caring.” — Mark Alan Lovewell

Mr. Davis, who has worked at the boat line since 1986 and took the helm 10 months ago, also offered another public apology for the problems and disruptions on the Vineyard route.

“We’re working on remedies to make sure that service is once again reliable,” he said in part.

The meeting ran for two hours, nearly all of it devoted to public comment. Many elected officials attended, and the board acknowledged that it had received a number of letters, including from selectmen in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown and the Dukes County Commission — all favoring an outside review as proposed by Mr. Hanover last month.

Islanders lined up at two microphones to tell personal stories, offer solutions to the myriad problems that have plagued the Vineyard route, praise crew members and lash out at boat line managers for not doing enough. The comments were wide ranging and included calls for cleaner ferries, winter high-speed ferry service and a return of the old guaranteed standby system.

But there was universal agreement on the need for an outside audit.

Large crowd filled performing arts center. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Every boat that is cancelled directly affects our bottom line,” said Josh Goldstein, whose family owns the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven. “This spring, something has gone terribly wrong. People have lost faith in the Steamship Authority. We need the boats that can get us to Mass General for doctor appointments in January and that can bring tourists here in July,” he added.

“We need to put a microscope on the Steamship Authority and find out what’s going on,” said Louis DeGeoffroy of West Tisbury.

“People just want to be in the know, they just want information,” said Adam Darack, a self-described hockey dad and father of a student who attends the Falmouth Academy. Mr. Darack is also the internet technology manager for the town of Edgartown, which has an effective text message system that is used to alert town residents on everything from beach closures to parking bans. He offered words of encouragement to the boat line board and said the problems are solvable. “It’s not quicksand at this point,” he said.

Mr. Rebello aimed pointed remarks at Nantucket boat line governor and board chairman Robert Ranney, who did not support Mr. Hanover’s proposal last month. “If there were 550 cancellations on the Nantucket run we would have their back,” he said, drawing applause. “It’s time to repair confidence in the Steamship Authority, we need to repair the image . . . the board has got to take a strong position. You have to do the responsible thing.”

In the end the five SSA governors and senior managers said they heard the message.

“I ride the boats, I use the standby lines, I know what it’s like when the ferries are cancelled . . . I understand all that and I’m not sitting here not caring,” Mr. Ranney said.

Universal agreement among speakers that there was need for an audit. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“I’m open to any direction the board wants to take,” Mr. Davis said.

“We can prepare an RFP and get it out quick,” said general counsel Steven Sayers.

In a roll call vote, Mr. Ranney from Nantucket, Betsy Gladfelter from Falmouth, Robert Jones from Barnstable, Maura Tierney from New Bedford and Mr. Hanover from the Vineyard all voted in favor of the RFP.

Speaking to the Gazette on Thursday, Mr. Davis said he expects the RFP will go out on Monday.

Mr. Davis also responded to the latest mishap on the ferry Martha’s Vineyard which took place late Wednesday when an oversized tractor trailer became stuck while exiting the ferry in Woods Hole. The trailer eventually was disconnected from the cab and used another cab to exit the ferry.

Mr. Davis said no one was hurt, but acknowledged that end-of-day service was delayed by nearly two hours, throwing the ferry off her schedule for the following morning.

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