Charlie Baker

Ferry Frustrations Continue for Martha's Vineyard Passengers

After two weeks of issues plaguing the Steamship Authority, passengers who rely on the service to travel between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard say they are fed up with the delays.

The travel problems started when the ferry Woods Hole ran aground earlier this month, followed by the ferry Martha’s Vineyard losing power, which stranded dozens of passengers. Those who use it frequently say wave of mechanical issues has not stopped since.

“You plan on being there at a certain time and four hours later you are still waiting,” passenger Ken Newman said.

Passengers have been facing long lines at the terminal and some have had to leave their vehicles behind, which is taking a toll on getting supplies to the island.

“Lumber yards for example, I have people working on my house and nothing for them to put on my house,” Jess Shapiro of Edgartown said.

“I had to get to the mainland for a job interview, but could not bring my car so I had to rent one,” Wendy Culpert of Vineyard Haven added.

Betsy Gladfelter, who serves on the Steamship Authority’s Board of Governors, said crews are working around the clock to get things back on track and one vessel is already back in service. They have been using a fast ferry from Seastreak to help, but Gladfelter said it has been a perfect storm.

“Boats always have problems, but all of these problems happened in a two week period to our two biggest vessels,” Gladfelter said. “Nobody has seen this before and I don’t think we’re going to see it again. Things are going to run smoothing and the issues will be resolved.”

It was smooth sailing Friday morning, but those island bound for Easter were already concerned about the trip back. With concern growing and frustrations mounting, state leaders are demanding action.

State Representative Dylan Fernandes and State Senator Julian Cyr released a joint statement recognizing that crews are working overtime to fix the issues and calling on the Steamship Authority to be more transparent with its customers.

A spokesman for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said, “The Baker-Polito Administration has contacted the Steamship Authority to offer assistance and will remain in contact with their office as they work to return full ferry service to the people of Martha’s Vineyard.”

The Steamship Authority sent out an announcement Friday evening, saying they had to change more than 50 vehicle reservations for this weekend. The customers whose reservations have already been changed have been notified, but the Steamship Authority advised all customers traveling this weekend to check the status of their vehicle reservations at or by calling the Reservation Office at (508) 477-8600 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Steamship Authority is also running an additional late trip on Sunday night with the M/V Katama, which will leave Woods Hole at 10:45 p.m. and arrive in Vineyard Haven at 11:30 p.m. There are limited spots left for this trip as of Friday evening. 

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