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Steamship Authority worried staff shortages could impact summer ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket – NBC Boston

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On another perfect day on Cape Cod, a Steamship Authority ferry left Woods Hole bound for Martha’s vineyard right on time. But as the ever-busy summer season approaches, there are concerns about staff shortages.

The organization says it has just enough staff to operate all of its ferries, which sail to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, with a limited margin for error.

“Time is absolutely money,” said Uber driver Francesco Vasaile.

Vasaile gets on the ferry right on time, and any delays will cost him money.

“I come here from Weymouth specifically every spring and summer just to make these trips,” Vasaile said.

For those who live on Martha’s Vineyard, the ferries that connect the island to Woods Hole are a major lifeline.

Andy Palmer, who lives on the island, has several important ferry trips booked over the next month.

“One of them is quite critical when it comes to meeting an aircraft at Logan (airport), so I’m a little concerned that could be a problem,” he said Tuesday. “Taking my wife to an operating room on Thursday, and that is also time sensitive.”

The Steamship Authority says illness reports or unforeseen absences can cause problems.

“Things are going to be very tight this summer,” Mark Higgins of the Steamship Authority said at a council meeting last week. “We’re looking at people who are sick or sick, we’re going to have problems.”

He attributed the workforce crisis to a lack of sailors and a number of retirements.

Finding a solution is a top priority for the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

“It is the first priority for the chamber, especially over the past three years the labor shortage on the Cape has been acute,” said chamber chairman Paul Niedzwiecki.

Niedzwiecki spent Tuesday meeting with lawmakers at the Massachusetts State House to try to find a solution to build more affordable housing.

“We are actually facing a crisis situation on the labor supply side due to the housing market,” he added.

The Steamship Authority says it is also working hard to hire staff ahead of the busy season.