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Vineyard's New Steamship Authority Rep. Talks Reputation, Sustainability

Dan Tritle
The Vineyard has a new Steamship Authority representative. James Malkin, a Chilmark Selectman, was sworn into service on Tuesday.

Martha’s Vineyard’s newest representative to the Steamship Authority board of governors says his top priorities are reliable service, better communication, and fair prices.

James Malkin, a Chilmark selectman, was sworn into the position on Tuesday after a unanimous vote by the Dukes County Commission.

After his swearing in on Tuesday, Malkin said he wants to use his position to address concerns about the Steamship Authority’s reputation.

“The major issue for me now is to get into the detail of why service has seemed to be inconsistent and unreliable.”

Malkin replaces Marc Hanover, who stepped down in January after a period in which the ferry line experienced a series of technical and mechanical disruptions.   

Beyond reputation repairs, Malkin added, a greater commitment to sustainability, will be part of the Steamship’s future.

As head of the Chilmark Climate Action Task Force, Malkin says he knows the challenges climate change poses to the region and is open to welcoming electric and hybrid ferries to the fleet, as Washington State has committed to doing.

“But I also know given the Steamship and any large organization, in my view, … you don’t want to be on the cutting edge,” he said. “There’s a lot of blood on the cutting edge. You want to be behind it.”

The Steamship Authority is responsible for five percent of the island’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. 

Prior to moving to the Vineyard, Malkin said he worked in trucking, media, and publishing companies across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., in “growth areas and in contraction areas.”

“I’m very much about process. I’m very much about goals. I’m very much about holding people accountable,” he said. “That’s my management background.”

Malkin will chair his first Steamship Authority meeting on Tuesday, March 17, at 10 a.m. in Falmouth.  

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.