Surprise Terminal Teardown
Mike Seccombe

If you happened to be in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday and were surprised to see the Steamship Authority terminal building in the process of being flattened, you were not alone. Also surprised, and dismayed, were town officials.

For the SSA did not have the town’s permission to do it. The conservation commission had issued an order permitting the renovation and expansion of the existing structure, not the demolition of it.

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Boatline Keeps Budget in Black; Terminal to Be Ready in April
Mike Seccombe

The Steamship Authority is on track to finish a difficult year in reasonably good financial shape, the last board meeting of 2009 was told last week.

As of the end of October, the boat line’s net operating income was almost $12 million, some $2.8 million better than forecast.

The monthly business summary continued the good-in-parts trend of recent months: revenues were sharply down, but so were costs.

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Conflicts of Interest Arise for SSA
Mike Seccombe

The knock-on effects of the financial crisis continue to manifest themselves in diverse and unforeseen ways. This week they paralyzed the board of governors of the Steamship Authority and forced them to the cost and bother of having to convene a special meeting.

To explain, you must start with one of the giant casualties of the crisis, Bank of America.

You will recall that this bank got into deep trouble a year or so back, first because of sub-prime mortgages and then because of its shotgun marriage to the even-more-troubled Merrill Lynch.

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Boatline Traffic Drops Sharply
Mike Seccombe

Passenger traffic to the Vineyard on Steamship Authority ferries fell to its lowest level in more than a decade in March, more than 11 per cent below that for the same month last year.

Not since 1997, said SSA general manager Wayne Lamson, had fewer people visited for the month. And it was not only passenger numbers which plunged. The number of trucks coming and going — another key indicator of economic activity — was down almost eight per cent on the previous March.

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Packer Agrees: No Rental Cars
Mike Seccombe

In the face of legal action by the Steamship Authority, Ralph Packer has finally agreed to stop the unlicensed transport of rental cars to Martha’s Vineyard on his barges for the summer tourist trade.

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SSA Goes to Court, Claiming Mr. Packer Lacks Proper License
Mike Seccombe

A longstanding dispute between the Steamship Authority and Ralph Packer’s barge operation over the annual transport of rental cars to the Island for the summer appears set to be fought out in court before this year’s tourist season.

For several years now, Mr. Packer’s Tisbury Towing and Transportation has moved cars for the Hertz rental company to and from the Island, much to the chagrin of the SSA, which has a legislated monopoly over the movement of people, vehicles and freight to and from the Islands.

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SSA to Receive Federal Funding, Scraps Winter Fast Ferry Service
Mike Seccombe

The Steamship Authority foresees another tough economic year ahead, with its 2010 preliminary draft budget projecting a further decrease in operating revenue.

The draft, presented at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of governors on Nantucket, expects passenger revenues to decline 2.1 per cent and freight revenue to fall 4.6 per cent.

Even when offset by an expected 11.4 per cent rise in rent revenue from barge operations, the overall decline is expected to be 2.1 per cent. Total operating revenue is expected to be just over $81 million.

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Uncle Sam and the SSA

Uncle Sam and the SSA

The federal government sometimes provides better entertainment than late night television.

Case in point is the Steamship Authority and the latest snafu over the use of federal stimulus money earmarked for reconstruction work on the ferry terminals in Oak Bluffs and Hyannis.

First comes the problem with the material used for the dolphins on the Hyannis project. Turns out that some of the material is made in China and the rules for stimulus money require that all steel be made in the USA.

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SSA Gives Hy-Line License Fee Relief
Mike Seccombe

Steamship Authority governors have opted to take a hit of up to $160,000 to boat line revenues this year so high-speed services to Nantucket can be maintained in the face of falling patronage.

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SSA Parking Options To Increase, As Will School Boatline Fees
Peter Brannen

By PETER BRANNEN

Frequent travelers off-Island will have more offsite parking options this off-season as the Steamship Authority voted on Tuesday to approve a $225 parking permit option that would run from January to May.

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