The financially woe-begotten Steamship Authority has seen a short-term jump in traffic, general manager Bob Davis announced at the weekly board meeting Tuesday, although Mr. Davis and governors said the long-term picture remains a major question mark.

“The trend is your friend, and the trend is an uptick in passengers,” Mr. Davis said. “Hopefully that continues.”

Governors also discussed financial austerity measures during the meeting, including possible salary reductions for SSA management and a new business model that adapts to the changes in traffic caused by Covid-19.

Mr. Davis told governors that the boat line normally had about $60,000 in daily credit card receipts during this part of April, but that number had fallen dramatically. More recently, however, the picture has improved, Mr. Davis said, noting a few $50,000 days recently, and a $90,000 day on Monday.

He attributed part of the uptick to the relaxing of construction bans throughout the Island. Monday marked the first day of the Island’s get-back-to-work guidelines, allowing one and two-man crews to return to jobsites.

Two weeks ago a far more dire picture was presented in a letter from Mr. Davis to Gov. Charlie Baker urgently requesting financial assistance. Mr. Davis said at the time the SSA was losing $1 million per week. Since then the boat line received word that $12 million in federal grant money would be expedited, keeping operations in the black at least through July.

At the meeting Tuesday, Mr. Davis said bookings for summer remained strong. He even said there was good news with near-term reservations, which had fallen off a cliff.

“We have seen an uptick in the near-term bookings,” Mr. Davis said. “The trend is an upward trend in terms of that. That may be reflective of people booking near-term reservations at this point.”

Mr. Davis said the boat line is at about 50 per cent of normal bookings and ferry reservations for May, at about 75 per cent for June and at about 90 per cent for July and August.

“The bookings are still there. We haven’t seen a lot of cancellations, which is a good thing,” he said. “Whether people are taking the wait-and-see approach or not, I’m not sure how to read it at this point.”

But Mr. Davis added that all was not rainbows and unicorns. He said looking at April numbers broadly, the ferry had lost approximately $4.3 million in expected revenue and had still about 15 per cent of the month’s regular passenger traffic. Automobile traffic was at approximately 22 per cent, and truck traffic at approximately 35 per cent of normal numbers.

And he said he didn’t know what the future portends.

“Not to say everything is rosy,” Mr. Davis told governors.

Governors agreed, saying they didn’t know what the future would bring either. They advocated for fiscal austerity and said it would be smart to view the recent upward trend as an anomaly in their efforts to plan for a cloudier future.

“Although the July and August reservations look strong, we should behave as if they are iffy numbers, and proceed without optimism for those numbers,” Falmouth governor Kathryn Wilson said.

Vineyard governor James Malkin seconded Ms. Wilson’s comments, and advocated for management to work on a business model that factored in changes in traffic caused by the pandemic. Mr. Malkin said talk on the Vineyard suggested many seasonal residents would still come, but that the summer could see a decline in day trippers.

“How do we operate in that environment?” Mr. Malkin asked. “What is the business model that we employ? We can’t just keep expecting millions of dollars to jump into our laps from other sources.”

Mr. Davis said the boat line would continue to monitor traffic in the short-term, and make further determinations about the schedule in the long-term. He said the SSA planned to run the current reduced schedule up to around six to eight days before Memorial Day, and would make a final decision within the next two days.

The meeting also included a discussion about the idea of reducing salaries for higher-paid, non-union personnel. New Bedford governor Moira Tierney suggested the board author a position paper on whether management could take a pay cut, viewing it as a necessary sacrifice as other workers faced layoffs.

“Politically, and numbers wise, we should do everything we can to really tighten our belts,” Ms. Tierney said.

Other governors vehemently disagreed, with Robert Jones saying he was bothered that the item was even on the agenda. The matter was ultimately dismissed without action.

SSA treasurer Mark Rozum told the board that the boat line had received a new offer Monday on a line of credit, but it had come in too late to be ready for discussion by the Tuesday morning meeting.

Mr. Rozum presented governors with an option for a $10 million line of credit from Cape Cod Five bank last week, but governors sent it back to the drawing board after disagreeing over certain terms.

Mr. Malkin closed the meeting by requesting that senior managers work on a financial model for the future.

“If things don’t start popping, we need to look at what the business model looks like going forward,” Mr. Malkin said. “That has to do with boats. That has to do with trips. That has to do with people. That has to do with cost structure, buildings, projects and everything else. That’s a big task, and we need a lot of people looking at that one in an effective manner.”