Martha’s Vineyard Summer Reservation Opening Remains On Schedule

Posted: January 20, 2023

FALMOUTH (January 20, 2023) – The general internet opening for summer vehicle reservations on the Martha’s Vineyard route will proceed as scheduled after modifications to the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority’s information technology infrastructure were made and successfully tested this week.

“Following thorough examination and testing of our systems by in-house network technicians, consulting programmers and system vendors, I am confident that we have resolved the issues affecting our reservation process,” said General Manager Robert B. Davis. “I want to reassure our customers that we have examined our systems and processes thoroughly and we have every expectation that the Vineyard general opening will proceed smoothly.”

Prior to beginning its summer reservation period, the, the Authority ran two load tests on the site in November 2022 and received normal results. Network connectivity and other technical configurations were further verified prior to the summer reservation openings.

However, the system did not perform as expected shortly after the Authority opened its website to summer reservations on the Nantucket route at 5 a.m. Tuesday, January 17, 2023. While the site was never down, customers experienced difficulty proceeding through the virtual waiting room to the main site. When they were able to access the main website, many customers then experienced difficulty completing the reservation process.

An analysis of Tuesday’s events uncovered two issues. First, the Authority’s cloud-based servers hosting its website databases were not properly set up to handle both the volume and duration of web traffic associated with the opening.

When those cloud-based server configurations were changed Tuesday, the second issue occurred when several of the Authority’s internal web servers could not then maintain a connection to the cloud servers. That not only caused some customers to lose their place in the virtual waiting room queue but, once they made it to the site, they were unable to sustain a stable connection. After the Authority took those servers offline, the remaining servers successfully handled the remaining web traffic for the day.

Since Tuesday, the Authority’s IT team has worked with its outside vendors to ensure that its cloud-based servers are properly configured. Once those configuration changes were applied. another load test was run on the servers that failed to respond on Tuesday; the servers handled four times the web traffic normally seen on a reservation opening day without incident.

The online reservation opening for travel on the Vineyard route from May 18, 2023, through October 23, 2023, will begin at 5 a.m. EST on January 24, 2023. On that day, the Authority will again utilize a virtual waiting room to direct traffic on the site to ensure optimal performance. The waiting room has been adjusted to allow for a longer time period of inactivity – five minutes, up from three minutes – on the site before a user is returned to the waiting room. Therefore, customers are encouraged to have their payment details and travel dates readily on hand before beginning their reservation process.

As a reminder, the Authority will clear the virtual waiting room at 5 a.m. on the Vineyard general opening day. This means customers who join the virtual queue ahead of the 5 a.m. opening will not receive an advantageous place in line. The Reservation Office will have extended hours to provide additional support to our customers on the following dates: 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST January 24, 2023, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. January 25-30, 2023. Reservations can not be made on the phone or in person at this time.

On the Nantucket general opening day, the Authority processed approximately 9,153 transactions totaling $4,748,000 in revenue. On the comparable day in 2022, the Authority processed a record 9,499 transactions representing nearly $4.7 million in revenue. In 2021, it processed 5,530 transactions representing $2.7 million in revenue.