In a year that has been marred by an unprecedented string of problems on the Vineyard route, the Steamship Authority is poised to hire an outside consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of operations. Eight firms that submitted bids to conduct the evaluation were revealed at a boat line meeting Tuesday in Falmouth.

A meeting is set for Tuesday in Hyannis to rate the proposals and potentially award a bid.

SSA governors voted unanimously last month to seek an independent outside evaluation of boat line operations, amid uproar over a long spate of ferry breakdowns this spring.

The deadline to submit proposals was Tuesday. SSA general counsel Steven M. Sayers said the eight firms submitting proposals are Ernst & Young in Lynnfield, McAlear Maritime Strategies in New Orleans, Proudfoot (Management Consulting Group PLC) in Atlanta, FRS Europe Holding GmbH in Flensburg, Germany, and three Seattle-based firms: Foss Maritime Company, HMS Consulting and Technical, and KPFF Consulting Engineers. McKinsey & Company in Boston, which had earlier submitted a $500,000 proposal, also filed a response.

Nantucket governor Robert Ranney, Vineyard governor Marc Hanover, Barnstable governor Robert Davis, and general manager Robert Davis. — Sara Brown

Mr. Sayers said governors would be provided with copies of the bids and asked to evaluate them on several criteria in advance of a meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Hyannis terminal.

Sealed financial bids will be revealed after the proposals are ranked by the board. The board will then discuss a recommended ranking order considering all information, Mr. Sayers said.

At the meeting this week, Barnstable governor Robert Jones questioned the tight time frame, noting that the board might want to invite the top three candidates in for interviews.

Mr. Sayers responded. “From what we heard at the last meeting in May, the public would like us to move as quickly as possible on it, the Martha’s Vineyard public,” he said, adding that scheduling interviews on short notice with worldwide organizations could be a challenge. “Whatever the board decides we’re going to do,” Mr. Sayers said. Josh Goldstein, whose family owns the Mansion House hotel in Vineyard Haven, said business has suffered due to perceived concerns about ferry reliability, and he urged the SSA to launch a promotion campaign. “We’re down. We’re down a lot,” Mr. Goldstein said. He asked the boat line consider buying airtime with Boston television stations and taking out ads in newspapers like the New York Times and the Globe. “Let people know the great service this authority has provided for the last 50 plus years,” he said. “We need to move or we’re going to lose our August, and then you’re going to have to raise our rates and nobody’s going to win.”

General manager Robert Davis said the SSA is considering issuing a request for proposals to coordinate an advertising program.

In other business, Mr. Davis provided an update about the $65 million project now under way to rebuild the Woods Hole terminal. The old terminal on the waterfront was demolished this winter and the area has been a work site for several months.

Mr. Davis said contractor Jay Cashman Inc. of Quincy recently built a shelter and tents to protect waiting passengers from the elements. The third ferry slip that was under construction is now open and in use, he said. Excavation work at the wharf has largely been completed and Cashman plans to clean up and suspend work by Friday this week. Work will resume after Labor Day.

“I’m told this initial phase, excavation, is the most difficult,” Mr. Davis told the board. “So hopefully that’s a good sign.”

Governors also heard an update on feasibility studies examining barging municipal waste from the Vineyard and running freight service to New Bedford.

Mr. Sayers said the next step for the barge service study is to meet with the towns of Tisbury and Oak Bluffs as well as Bruno’s Rolloff and Packer Marine. “There are lots of issues,” he said.

Freight service between the Vineyard and New Bedford still appears to be a distant concept, Mr. Davis said, mainly due to facility and infrastructure deficiencies in New Bedford.

A traffic report for April showed that passenger traffic to the Vineyard was down by about eight per cent. Vehicle traffic was also down about eight per cent, and truck traffic down about three per cent. Mr. Davis said maintenance expenses for the year are up about $1.5 million, or 22 per cent, compared to what was budgeted.

Senior managers are also working on compiling information about vessel performance to present the board a monthly report about whether ferries are arriving and departing on time, Mr. Davis said. “What we’re doing is still trying to refine a formal process for on time performance,” he said. “It turned out to be very labor intensive to acquire, record, document information.”

Vineyard governor Marc Hanover said with construction winding down for the summer, ferries seemed to be running more on time.

A pilot program to sell tickets to those waiting in line for the shuttle bus at the Thomas Landers parking area was well received, Mr. Davis said, and helped shorten long lines for tickets at the temporarily Woods Hole terminal.

He also introduced the new communication manager, Sean Driscoll, who was in the audience. Mr. Driscoll is a Cape Cod Times reporter who officially joins the Steamship Authority later this month.

Mr. Davis said the board is already planning several initiatives that Mr. Driscoll will oversee, including using social media to announce travel alerts and a top to bottom review of how trip advisories are sent out. The boat line is also looking at creating an operations and communication center.

Mr. Driscoll thanked the board for the opportunity. “I’m excited to be on board and looking forward to working with you all,” he said.

“Welcome aboard,” Mr. Hanover said. “I hope you’re Superman.”

“My five year old thinks so,” Mr. Driscoll replied.