The Steamship Authority has come in for plenty of criticism over the past year, and as its top official, general manager Bob Davis must take responsibility for its shortcomings.

But Mr. Davis also deserves respect and appreciation for working tenaciously to secure a pledge from Gov. Charlie Baker that guarantees port towns served by the SSA will not be stuck with multi-million-dollar tab for a revenue shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He didn’t do it alone. Sen. Julian Cyr successfully carried legislation through the Senate, and Rep. Dylan Fernandes secured concurrence in the House. Both tapped other powerful southeastern Massachusetts legislators, especially Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chairman of Senate Ways and Means, and Rep. Bill Straus, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, who recognized the importance of a boat line that has never before had to ask for state money.

Mr. Davis’s primary skill is finance, but it took more than an understanding of the SSA’s unique funding structure to rally the legislative delegation and persuade state officials to protect Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis, Falmouth and New Bedford from what could have been a crushing debt. The Steamship Authority has estimated a $25 million shortfall for the year, about $9 million of which would have fallen to Island taxpayers, absent the governor’s action.

It took leadership of a kind that could benefit the boat line in other ways too.