A growing number of Falmouth residents say they are losing sleep as a result of morning truck traffic to the Vineyard.

Catherine Bumpus, co-president of the Woods Hole Community Association. — Ray Ewing

At a well-attended public hearing in Falmouth on Tuesday, dozens of residents urged the Steamship Authority board of governors to eliminate fall freight service from Woods Hole prior to 6:30 a.m. Some pointed to New Bedford as an alternate point of departure for trucks heading to the Vineyard.

Concerns over freight traffic in Woods Hole have been mounting for some time, with a consultant for the Steamship Authority now exploring the feasibility of trash and freight service from New Bedford. (A similar study was completed last year, but boat line leaders said the $10 million to $15 million cost of building a new terminal would be prohibitive.)

At least 90 people packed into a meeting room at the Falmouth Public Library for the hearing on Tuesday, including a number of truckers and at least two members of the Island business community.

The hearing had been called in response to a petition by 61 Falmouth residents in June opposing the early morning freight trips proposed in the Steamship Authority’s schedule for Martha’s Vineyard next winter and spring.

Concerns focused on the noise associated with trucks on Woods Hole Road and at the boat line terminal. More than a little heat was directed at the Vineyard community itself, which benefits from the service.

Joe El-Deiry said early morning ferries are a lifeline for the Vineyard. — Ray Ewing

“It is unfortunate that the quality of life of Falmouth residents is suffering for the convenience of the Vineyard residents,” said Catherine Bumpus, co-president of the Woods Hole Community Association.

The schedule for mid-March to early April would include between seven and nine freight trips per day, with the earliest leaving from Vineyard Haven at 5:30 a.m. From April to mid-May, the earliest trips would leave from Woods Hole at 5:30 a.m. Unlike last year, the period from January to mid-March would include weekend freight trips, and more trips throughout the week. The earliest would leave from both Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven at 6 a.m.

Roland Beliveau was among many residents who said the sound of trucks braking or backing up has become a severe nuisance by waking people up in the morning. He strongly supported the idea of establishing freight service from New Bedford, and pointed out that Falmouth maintains a large parking lot for ferry passengers.

“Let the Vineyarders pay their fair share, rather than make us suffer,” he said, drawing applause.

Association member Judy Stetson read aloud a letter from Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who said his office has received a record number of complaints about the freight traffic. Mr. Fernandes urged boat line governors to address the concerns. Falmouth selectman Doug Jones noted a 1999 joint resolution between the Falmouth and Vineyard selectmen asking the SSA to change the first boat from 6 to 7 a.m.

But others stressed the importance of the early morning freight service for communities on both sides of Vineyard Sound.

Falmouth selectman Doug Jones. — Ray Ewing

Joe El-Deiry, general manager of John Keene Excavation in West Tisbury, said the early morning ferries are a lifeline for the Vineyard.

“It is very important to make sure that you are able to get to the Island and off the Island,” he said, “and do what you need to do when other businesses are open.” He added that the 6 a.m. ferry allows many people to commute to the Island. “If you get rid of that boat you are obviously going to be eating into those people’s opportunity to earn a living,” he said.

Others also acknowledged the shared benefits, but still pressed for the elimination of freight trips before 6:30 a.m.

Kevin Robinson, who owns the Captain’s Manor Inn in Falmouth, said most of his guests also visit the Island, but he said more and more of them have been complaining about the noise on Woods Hole Road.

Falmouth residents say they are losing sleep over truck noise. — Ray Ewing

“The Steamship Authority is a lifeline, but I could lose customers,” he said, urging the board to find ways to make the trucks slow down.

Several people said reduced speeds on Woods Hole Road would prevent jake braking, where compressed air is released from inside a truck engine to help it slow down, making a loud rumbling noise.

Bruce O’Donnell of Oak Bluffs, who takes trucks on the 5:30 a.m. ferry, said losing those trips would put deliveries two or three hours behind. He pointed out that many trucks deliver to businesses within Falmouth. “Are you going to regulate all the trucks coming into Falmouth, so they can’t come in until after 6:30, or are you just regulating the trucks that are going to the boat? Because that’s not fair,” he said.

Some argued that without the early morning ferries, more deliveries would take place in the daytime, creating a hazard in Falmouth. “The streets are going to be filled with people, filled with school buses, filled with kids,” said Mark Patel. “You want these gas trucks and these propane trucks coming down then?”

In response, several people said: “New Bedford!”

SSA governors made no comment, with the exception of New Bedford governor and board chairman Moira Tierney, who asked that people refrain from applause. SSA general counsel Steven Sayers, who chaired the hearing, said a final report on the proposed schedule would incorporate the public comments.

Judy Steson read a statement from state Rep. Dylan Fernandes. — Ray Ewing

Matt Trumbull, who initiated the petition, spoke at length about his efforts over the last two years to address the noise problem. He said when the 5:30 a.m. freight ferry started running in 2015, people felt taken by surprise. He noted two previous petitions to address the matter, but he said concerns have generally been ignored

“In my view, the Steamship [Authority] is singlehandedly ruining our quality of life in Woods Hole and parts of Falmouth,” he said.

Turning to the possibility of freight service from New Bedford, he said it was his understanding that most trucks going over from Woods Hole were already passing by New Bedford on their way.

Brian van Herzen, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Foundation in Woods Hole, said his group is exploring the possibility of barging trash and recyclables from the Vineyard to New Bedford using existing infrastructure and possibly leveraging state funds. He said that arrangement would provide multiple benefits, including a reduction in truck traffic in Woods Hole and lower greenhouse gas emissions resulting from shorter trips on the mainland.

After the hearing, boat line general manager Wayne Lamson told the Gazette that New Bedford freight service would not be an easy win, given the cost factors and current restrictions on the use of an existing pier in New Bedford, where the piles need to be replaced. He added that New Bedford mayor Jon Mitchell has not appeared to embrace the idea of freight service on the waterfront.

He said concerns in Falmouth originally focused on noise at the Woods Hole terminal, which he said the Steamship Authority has addressed in part by running 5:30 a.m. ferries that do not require trucks to back on to the vessel. “Once we addressed those problems, it then expanded all the way up Woods Hole Road,” Mr. Lamson said.

But he also noted that truck drivers often arrive at 5 a.m. hoping to get on the 5:30 ferry, even if their reservations are for later in the day. “We have to do something to prevent those trucks from showing up at 5 when there is practically no chance that they are going to be able to get on the boat,” he said.

The board will hold its regular meeting next week on Nantucket, but Mr. Lamson said the proposed Vineyard schedule for next year was not on the agenda. He hoped to have a final report on the schedule in the next couple of weeks.