Responding to complaints from Islanders, the Steamship Authority is preparing to resume its former decade-long policy of allowing the 10-ride commuter pass sold at a discount to be used by multiple people who are traveling together.

But amid disagreement over cost and whether the pass should be restricted to Islanders and commuters, boat line governors at their monthly meeting Tuesday postponed a vote on the change until next month.

Many Islanders have complained about the new policy of restricting the 10-ride pass to the person who holds it.

“It’s the convenience we’re looking for,” said Leon Braithwaite, a Dukes County commissioner who traveled from the Vineyard to New Bedford to address boat line governors at their meeting in the Whaling City.

But that convenience will also come with a cost: The reinstated 10-ride FerryPass cards will no longer be exempt from the embarkation fee of 50 cents a trip. And along with the $5 increase for a 10-ride pass, the trips themselves may soon go up in price.

Governors were poised to bring back the multi-use policy during Tuesday’s meeting at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, but postponed action until September in order for staff to study the cost structure.

“It makes sense to re-evaluate the discount rate,” said SSA general manager Robert Davis after Falmouth governor Elizabeth Gladfelter and Barnstable governor Robert Jones both asked for more information.

The 10-ride FerryPass and five-ride LifeLine are RFID cards that store value until they’re scanned at boarding. Depleted cards can be reloaded online or at a ticket counter. The LifeLine, sold at all terminals, will continue to be limited to one trip per person per card under a policy enacted in May.

Both cards come with a 13.75 per cent discount from the cost of full-fare ferry tickets purchased singly. But since the cards are not restricted to Islanders, commuters and property owners, anyone can buy them — and up to 47 one-time visitors have ridden a ferry together at the discounted rate, Mr. Davis said.

“We found that people were buying [the cards] who never reloaded them and never used them again,” Mr. Davis said. “It was undermining the cost structure that we had in place for the passenger tickets, and it ends up impacting the Islands and residents because these are discounts that these people under other circumstances wouldn’t be eligible for,” he added.

The intent of the discounted 10-ride ticket books, and the cards that have replaced them, “was to give commuters and Islanders an opportunity to save something on their travel,” Mr. Davis said.

To discourage casual visitors from abusing the discount, Mr. Davis recommended limiting sales of the FerryPass cards to boat line terminals on the Vineyard and Nantucket, although the cards could be reloaded at any SSA terminal or online. But his proposal met with strong resistance from Mr. Braithwaite and sparked disagreement among some of the governors.

“I don’t think it’s fair to exclude other communities,” Ms. Gladfelter said.

“How are we excluding them?” responded Vineyard governor Marc Hanover. “We just want people to pay their fair share. If you’re a real commuter, buying a ticket on the Island is not an issue.”

Barnstable governor Robert Jones joined Ms. Gladfelter in objecting to the proposed restrictions on card sales. “I don’t like mixed policies,” he said. “It’s discriminating against one side over another.”

Mr. Braithwaite said the 10-ride cards need to be available on the mainland, with or without a discount.

“People would not mind paying full price for that card, whether they’re going east or west,” he told the governors. “If you want to sell it on this side at a higher rate, nobody’s going to complain. The whole issue is making it easier for people to get on the boat and get over.”

A 10-ride, multi-use card that includes the embarkation fee but no discount is something the boat line could look at in the future, Mr. Davis said.

Another option under dicsussion is a 10-ride card, available to all passengers, that includes the embarkation fee and a lower discount, he said.

“Undoubtedly there will be people who, to save the fee, will use LifeLine cards,” Mr. Davis went on. “We’re not proposing to eliminate those.”

One thing the boat line has to make be sure of, he added, is that “what we put out there is a product that is well received.

“We don’t want to be tripping over ourselves,” Mr. Davis said. “We want to get it right.”