Opinion: SSA officials must put Cape and Islands residents first, not themselves

·3 min read

Why is the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Steamship Authority (SSA) running scared about a minor proposed legislative change to its governance that includes term limits for new board members?

The SSA claims it is doing an excellent job and no one should dicker with how it has always run itself (perfectly). ("Shocked and appalled': Island officials want Steamship Authority legislation pulled", 4/14) Some from the Islands claim that SSA was initially established for and must always serve the benefits of the islands solely and to hell with whatever might be negative impacts on anyone else.

Is there no way both sides in this matter can benefit?

The new Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority walkway cover in Woods Hole has a nautical map motif.
The new Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority walkway cover in Woods Hole has a nautical map motif.

It appears that no one who works at the SSA wants to give up the goose that keeps laying golden eggs, which provides lifelong positions with good salaries and benefits. And no oversight!

How can anyone except an SSA diehard claim: "I am impressed with the Steamship Authority's ability to respond to the challenges that we've had over the last several years; I have seen a lot of positive steps forward," said Mary Longacre, a Nantucket planning & economic development commissioner who said she was speaking in an individual capacity, as reported in the Martha's Vineyard Times.

Does this positive step include "voluntarily" accepting to create a potentially state-mandated position of chief operating officer after the SSA made major protests against doing this?

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Where are the constructive SSA responses to years of community outcry about the disruption caused by the 5:30 a.m. ferry run? What about the SSA lie never to use slip #3 for regular operations? What about the non-stop complaints about the new incredulously enormous and frightfully expensive and unnecessary new ticketing building with its massive cost overruns? What about the spending of millions of dollars on a non-functional and unaesthetic nautical chart that is supposed to provide customer "weather protection?"

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Where is the fulfillment of the SSA's responsibility to run a cost-effective operation without constant failures and disruptions? Where is forward progress towards electrification and reduction of local pollution, and its complete refusal to enforce state law about no-idling on its property? Where are its concerns about sleep deprivation, massive traffic snarls, dangerous and speeding shuttle buses? What about its refusal to make a serious attempt to help establish an off-Cape transportation facility because it has always added restrictions that make a viable bid virtually impossible?

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I have probably missed many other significant points. However, it is clear that the only opposition to SSA change is from those who benefit from its present operating methods and who know the true failures of the SSA but have chosen for more than 50 years to keep their eyes, noses and ears closed.

The SSA was created for the benefit of the people on both sides of the sound. A good neighbor is a good neighbor. Is the SSA?

Damien Kuffler, Woods Hole

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape Cod Steamship Authority opposes term limits, new governance rules