Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Gaining Steam

See: Running Out of Steam

"Facing outrage, Steamship Authority board agrees to outside review" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  May 15, 2018

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — Amid public criticism over an unprecedented number of ferry cancellations this year, the Steamship Authority’s five-member board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire outside consultants to conduct an independent review of its operations.

The decision came after dozens of residents voiced anger and frustration over mechanical problems that forced some 550 trips to be canceled from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven during the first four months of the year.

Reliable ferry service is essential for the well-being of the island’s residents and businesses, they said.

“This is our economy,” said MacAleer Schilcher, 33, of Tisbury, who started a Facebook group for concerned residents that has grown to 1,000 members. “This is our lives.”

That's odd because the second article in my previous post made it sound like no big deal.

One after another, residents lined up at a microphone in the auditorium at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to blast the authority not only over the cancellations, but for a lack of timely information about schedule changes.

They hot-headed are they?

“If you’re going to cancel our services, you’ve got to tell us,” said Ebba Hierta, 62, of West Tisbury, drawing applause. “Suffice it to say, we have no confidence in your ability.”

Per the board’s vote, a request for proposals to hire a consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive review of the agency will be issued by end of this week.

“I think a lot of things are going to come to light,” Marc N. Hanover, the board’s secretary, said after the meeting.

Hanover, who first proposed an outside review in April, said the exercise will “pay for itself in the long run” if service improves.

And that is the problem. 

What good is hiring a consultant to issue a report months away if not to take pressure off the same officials who have either mismanaged or neglected the situation? It's a public relations move. Doesn't get one ship fixed, prevent any future cancellations or delays, or improve the situation in any way, shape, or form. It just shovels a contract to some (well-connected) pr firm to run some interference over the summer tourist season.

Boats operated by the Steamship Authority, a semi-public agency, last year carried more than 3 million passengers, nearly half a million cars, and about 190,000 trucks to and from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, according to statistics published by the agency, but the authority has faced an onslaught of public criticism for its performance for the first four months of this year. The 550 trip cancellations from January through April are about 15 times the yearly average, the authority said in a report released last week. 

So no one has seen the books, huh?

The tally includes some high-profile failures, such as when one ferry lost power, stranding 72 passengers off the island for five hours on March 17.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Robert B. Davis, the authority’s general manager accepted responsibility for the recent failures.

“I want to offer my sincere apologies for what’s transpired the past couple of months,” said Davis. “It’s embarrassing that we’re in this position.”

Why the neglect?

Davis has attributed the breakdowns to a series of unrelated mechanical failures on multiple boats, from broken propeller parts to loose wires to failed electrical breakers. Some of the failures temporarily sidelined a vessel that was commissioned only two years ago. Others plagued a boat that recently underwent an $18 million refurbishment.

In the report released last week, the authority acknowledged that the repeated service disruptions, along with complaints about poor communication and customer service, have eroded customers’ confidence in the agency.

Davis tried to reassure residents that steps are being taken to address the problems. “We’re working on remedies for the summer time and for the fall and going forward,” he said.

Yuh-huh. I suppose the proof of that will be as the ship moves forward.

Why was the problem allowed to happen and get so bad in the first place?

The report issued last week also identified several possible steps to improve performance, including the hiring of an outside consultant to review vessel maintenance practices.

Staff would also be required to record specific reasons for cancellations and delays. Communication with the public would also be improved, the report said.


They never told you how much the con$ultant was going to co$t.

(Sound of engine cutting out and quitting as the lights fail)

Next Day Update:

Finally got the engine started again!

"Mechanical problems have sidelined an island ferry yet again" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  May 23, 2018

It was the latest failure in a monthslong series of breakdowns that have island residents on Nantucket and neighboring Martha’s Vineyard as well as public officials growing increasingly concerned about the agency’s ability to provide reliable service with the summer season’s unofficial start just a few days away.

By late morning Wednesday, the authority said the boat had been repaired, passed testing, and was cleared by the Coast Guard to get back into action, beginning with a noon trip from Hyannis to Nantucket. Tuesday marked the first day that vessel had returned to service following a $1.6 million repair project.

Three boats have accounted for the majority of cancellations: the Martha’s Vineyard, which recently returned from an $18 million mid-life refurbishment project; the Island Home, which recently came back from a $2 million overhaul; and the Woods Hole, which was built just two years ago and ran aground in March.....


Been happening all summer.

Also see:

"The Steamship Authority’s cancellation of two trips Sunday added to local frustration with the transportation agency, whose fleet has been plagued with mechanical problems well into the critical summer tourist season for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket....."

Ferry with 75 people on board loses power off Martha’s Vineyard