Steamship Authority to place its first order for electric buses

Posted: January 27, 2021

Electric bus illustration 

FALMOUTH (January 27, 2021) – The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority will place its first-ever order for electric bues this year to transport customers from its off-site parking lots to its mainland ferry terminals in Hyannis and Woods Hole. The Authority Board authorized the purchase during its January 25, 2021 meeting, which was held via Zoom videoconferencing.

Three 40-foot long, low-floor electric buses, along with the necessary charging infrastructure, will be purchased from BYD North America for a total price not to exceed $2,950,000. Two of the buses will serve the Woods Hole terminal, and one will serve the Hyannis terminal. It is expected that the buses will be in service year-round at both locations starting in 2022.

The purchase price will be offset by two grants the Authority received in 2019 totaling $875,000. One was from the Volkswagen Settlement Grant Program (administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) and the other was awarded under the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No-Emission Program.

“The addition of electric buses to our fleet furthers the Steamship Authority’s ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Robert B. Davis, general manager of the Authority. “We are thankful for the support from both the state and federal grant programs that are helping to offset the cost of these vital additions to our shuttle fleet.”

The electric shuttle buses are the latest of several “green” projects currently under way at the Authority.

The Authority is pursuing installation of solar panels at its Thomas B. Landers Road parking lot in Falmouth. Following a feasibility study of the site by Jones Lang LaSalle, it was determined that a solar array at the site could be capable of generating as much as 9 megawatts of electricity, although the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program limits the size of an individual project to 5 megawatts. The Authority plans to issue a request for proposals for the solar canopy by the end of June.

As part of its Woods Hole Terminal Reconstruction Project, the Authority is pursuing LEED Certification and/or LEED Zero Energy Certification for its new terminal building. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a widely recognized green building rating system that provides a framework for developing green buildings. The Green Building Certification Institute administers the LEED program and peforms third-party technical reviews and verification of LEED-registered projects.

The Authority’s architect,, has determined the building’s current design would qualify it for a “Certified” status. has further identified possible design enhancements that could further qualify the building for a “Silver” or “Gold” status. As part of its Design Development phase, which is scheduled to run from July through December of this year, and the Authority will work together to determine which level of LEED Certification is appropriate to pursue.

The one-story terminal building is planned to be built with solar panels on its roof, as well as over the vehicle pick-up and drop-off areas, to help offset the energy requirements of the structure. Construction on the terminal is expected to begin in 2023.

Since 1960, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has served as the transportation lifeline to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard year round. The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry service to the islands and offers the most frequent daily departures for passengers, automobiles, groups and trucks. In 2019, over 3 million passengers and over 670,000 vehicles were transported to and from the islands. Our U.S. Coast Guard-certified crews are committed to the highest level of safety at sea while our vessels offer comfort and convenience with spacious seating, free Wi-Fi and TV on board.