As public pressure grows in the wake of Steamship Authority cancellations, breakdowns and reservation woes, the Dukes County commission invited Jim Malkin, Vineyard representative to the SSA, to give an update on ferry line operations on Sept. 7.

Addressing the commission and a small group of Zoom attendees, Mr. Malkin admitted that improvements are necessary for the Steamship Authority while maintaining that the boat line has performed fairly well throughout the summer.

“I think the performance was pretty good,” he said.

He added that 0.4 per cent of trips on the Vineyard route this year have been canceled due to mechanical issues.

“So that’s about four and a half trips per thousand,” Mr. Malkin said. “That’s pretty good.”

He also acknowledged the need for better communication at the SSA both internally and with passengers.

“We need improvement with the way the SSA communicates with Vineyarders,” Mr. Malkin said.

He added that there should be a continued focus on maintenance and improving the reservation system, which came under public scrutiny throughout the summer. In the popular Facebook group Islanders Talk, photos of near- and partially empty boats have become commonplace, often accompanied by complaints about the discontinuation of the standby line.

He said the two recently purchased ferries will likely help with maintenance issues because they are sister vessels with the same internal mechanics.

“Parts are going to be the same, operation is going to be the same, training is going to be the same,” Mr. Malkin said.

He added hope that the potential to purchase two more sister vessels could further unify the fleet and help avoid maintenance issues.

County commissioner R. Peter Wharton brought up electrification of the fleet, showing a video that detailed measures being taken in Washington state to electrify its ferry service.

“I’d like to see us become leaders in that as well on the east coast,” he said.

In his presentation, Mr. Malkin said he believes in electrification, but noted that to be on the cutting edge of the technology would risk complications for the SSA.

“I think we’ve been taking the right steps,” he said.

During public comment, Kate Warner asked Mr. Malkin whether anything could be done to rework plans for a new terminal building in Woods Hole and create infrastructure to support electrification. Mr. Malkin said plans for the building are already in motion and past the point of reworking.

“I’m not comfortable with the big terminal building, but the horse is out of the barn on that one,” Mr. Malkin said.