Rental Cars Drive SSA, Packer to Court
Mike Seccombe

The Steamship Authority appears likely to go to court to stop a Vineyard barge operator from bringing rental cars to and from the Island for the summer tourist season.

SSA general manager Wayne Lamson told a meeting of the boat line governors on Tuesday that repeated warnings to the barge operator had gone unheeded, and that any further shipments would bring legal action.

Ralph Packer, who owns Tisbury Towing and Transportation, said yesterday he believed the company was entitled to continue the practice.

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As Fuel Costs Skyrocket, SSA Raises Fares
Mike Seccombe

Fares for both cars and passengers on Steamship Authority ferries will go up beginning May 1 as a result of soaring world energy prices.

Passenger fare increases on both the Vineyard and Nantucket routes were recommended by boat line management at the April governors’ meeting in New Bedford on Tuesday. The fare hikes are expected to raise an extra $1.5 million in revenue to offset fuel price increases.

But after a long discussion, boat line governors called for raising vehicle rates as well, to provide a further financial cushion of some $575,000.

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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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