Steamship Authority announces results of its Request for Proposals for off-Cape freight service for Martha’s Vineyard

Posted: August 5, 2022

FALMOUTH (August 5, 2022) – Following more than four months of local and national advertisement of its Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide a freight transportation service for Martha’s Vineyard from an off-Cape port, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority received no proposals for the contract by the 2 p.m. August 2, 2022, deadline.

The RFP was issued on March 18, 2022, and was advertised by multiple methods, including posting on the Authority’s website; legal advertisements in the Cape Cod Times and the New Bedford Standard-Times; advertisements in multiple marine publications, including Marine Link, Boats & Harbors, Maritime Reporter and Marine Log; and an email blast by Marine Log that was sent to approximately 20,000 subscribers and included a full-color advertisement of the RFP notice.

The Authority received 47 requests for a full copy of the RFP but, ultimately, no proposals, nor any requests for revisions. The RFP encouraged potential proponents “to contact the SSA if they believe there are any provisions in the RFP that are too restrictive for a successful freight service for the island of Martha’s Vineyard so that the SSA can review those provisions and, if possible and appropriate, address any concerns.” However, no potential proponents chose to do so.

“I am obviously disappointed that we did not receive any proposals for off-Cape freight service for Martha’s Vineyard, especially after the many hours dedicated to preparing the RFP by our staff and community stakeholders. I firmly believe we issued an RFP that was clear, fair, and flexible,” said Robert B. Davis, the Steamship Authority’s general manager. “I continue to believe that this new freight service can become a long-term part of the marine transportation network that helps us fulfill our statutory duty of providing adequate transportation of persons and the necessaries of life for the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.”

Davis said Authority staff have asked those potential proponents who requested a full copy of the RFP for their input on why they did not submit proposals. After diligently reviewing that feedback, Davis said he and the Authority’s staff will consider what next steps should be taken in this process.

The Authority issued the RFP in accordance with a vote by the Authority’s Board on September 30, 2021, approving the Authority’s 2022 Summer and Fall Operating Schedules for its ferry service between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard. In that vote, the Authority’s Board also approved a report regarding those schedules announcing that the Authority would issue an RFP from parties seeking to conduct licensed freight operations between the City of New Bedford (or another off-Cape port) and Martha’s Vineyard.

Since 1960, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has served as the year-round transportation lifeline to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. 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 2021, over 2.7 million passengers and over 700,000 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.