Vehicle traffic on Vineyard ferries has largely rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, Steamship Authority governors learned Tuesday, but the good news was tempered by concerns around communication, traffic backups and boat breakdowns in recent months.

The SSA released ridership data for September alongside Thanksgiving reservation numbers at the monthly board meeting, held online. Automobile traffic is up 7.5 per cent for the month of September, compared with 2019.

Reservations for the week of Thanksgiving are also up.

“We’re trending ahead,” boat line treasurer Mark Rozum said. “It’s clear that people are making their reservations more in advance.”

The boat line carried trucks, automobiles and passengers at a higher rate than budgeted for the month of September. The SSA saw an operating revenue surplus of $444,000 for the month, contributing to what is now just under $3 million in unanticipated revenue for the year. But general manager Bob Davis speculated the $3 million will likely dwindle as the year closes, and “bring that variance down” closer to what was budgeted for the year.

But the traffic increase hasn’t been a total boon for the SSA, as higher levels of ridership this year have brought to light other issues.

The boat line was widely criticized for its handling of a recent incident that took the ferry Nantucket offline on Nov. 7. Vineyard governor James Malkin said many people who signed up for email blasts were never notified of the service changes resulting from the downed boat.

“The concern was consistent communication on the ground and effective communication electronically,” Mr. Malkin said. “Emails didn’t even get out to many, many people.

Communications director Sean Driscoll said that while there are clear issues with the SSA communication system, passengers can ensure they receive notices by providing accurate contact information. At times the SSA has had to remove invalid emails from lists in order to send out notices, causing delays, he said.

Mr. Davis acknowledged the problems. “We don’t like to miss trips. Our crews don’t like to miss them,” he said. Still, he noted that over 98 per cent of scheduled trips on the Vineyard route have sailed, a rate similar to both 2019 and 2020. He said the SSA will keep working to improve communications with customers.

Part of that work includes an overhaul of the SSA website and mobile app. Mr. Driscoll said a contract with the Boston-based ADK Group will be signed in the coming days to reconstruct the site and mobile app.

Communication problems also will be addressed at a public information session for the Vineyard at 5 p.m. Thursday via Zoom.

The governors also took steps to address the recent problems with traffic backups in Woods Hole, approving a new set of reservation-only dates for 2022 that will make all summer weekends reservation-only and add reservation-only dates surrounding many summer holidays.

The new reservation-only schedule is as follows: Friday through Monday from May 20 to Oct. 24; May 26 and 31; June 28, 29 and 30; July 5, 6 and 7; August 23, and Sept. 6.

“We feel it’s important to start the reservation-only at the beginning of the summer schedule next year,” Mr. Davis said.

But Falmouth governor Kathryn Wilson said the plan doesn’t take into account the weekday backups that sometimes occur in the peak summer months.

Mr. Davis said the reservation-only dates surrounding the Fourth of July, a problematic weekend last summer, will likely help with weekday issues. For other potential weekday backups, he said, “We’ll try to keep an eye on it.”

And while automobile traffic has climbed beyond pre-pandemic levels, both passenger and truck traffic have dwindled since 2019. Truck traffic is down 4.5 per cent and passenger traffic down 6.4 per cent for the month of September.

Meanwhile, Mr. Malkin took issue with some of the figures being circulated by Woods Hole and Falmouth residents in what he called “a pretty relentless campaign” about truck traffic. Mr. Malkin said the numbers are misleading.

While about 410 trucks are taken across the sound every day, he noted that the figure includes passenger trucks; around 190 are commercial or freight haulers.

“I’m happy to work with the port communities,” Mr. Malkin said. “[But] there aren’t 600 trucks . . . one third of that that are commercial trucks or freight trucks.”

The SSA changed the way it counted trucks some years ago, including pickups and SUVs in the total count.

In an update on another hotly debated topic, the cost of the marine portion of the Woods Hole terminal reconstruction project is now $3 million over the original estimate of $43.6 million. Contributing to the cost overruns is unexpected work needed on pilings and scour protection, totaling just over $300,000. Governors approved the extra spending Tuesday. SSA project manager Bill Cloutier said the marine side part of the project will likely finish in mid to late winter.

“I’m hoping end of February, early March,” Mr. Cloutier said. “I don’t see it slipping too much.”

There was discussion on the planned new terminal building, which has also been a sore spot for Woods Hole residents.

Barnstable governor Robert Jones noted that at roughly 5,500 square feet, the new terminal will be smaller than terminals in Hyannis and on the two Islands.

“I think when they’re asking us to make it smaller, they’re not taking into consideration the utility of the buildings,” Mr. Jones said.

Also at the meeting, Ms Wilson announced her resignation from the board, which she said comes “due to circumstances outside of my control.”

Teary eyed, she lauded the SSA’s recent efforts to study New Bedford ferry service.

“I’m not so sure we’re going to accept your resignation, so how about that?” Mr. Jones joked.

Ms. Wilson said she will stay on the board until a replacement is found.

“I’ll keep you posted on the timing,” she said.

The Falmouth select board is the appointing authority for that town’s SSA governor.