The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket Steamship Authority last night received $12 million in federal funding before it was reportedly forced to stop service.

The Federal Transit Administration had previously threatened to decertify the Steamship Authority as a commuter service, and without such status the Steamship Authority would not be eligible for CARES Act stimulus funding, said U.S. Rep. William Keating in a media release.

Keating today said he was able to intercede with the FTA by providing new evidence of commuter traffic on the island ferries. He said the certification was preserved, and that FTA chief K. Jane Williams promised him at the end of April that $12 million would be expedited and delivered within two weeks. It's not clear why the money was delayed. Keating in April said the funds were necessary as a bridge to summer revenues.

The Steamship Authority, already struggling, suffered additional economic damage due to COVID-19 shutdowns. The $12 million includes $9.8 million in CARES Act funding and an annual allocation of $2.45 million from other FTA sources.

“The stoppage in Steamship Authority service was a real threat and the ceasing of that service would have been catastrophic for our region,” Keating said.

“The Steamship Authority provides a critically important service and is literally the lifeline to the Islands," said Tom Cahir of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. He and Robert B. Davis, general manager of the Steamship Authority, thanked Keating for his work over the years to help the ferry service.

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