2018 Annual Guide: Martha’s Vineyard
A day in the life of: Bridget Tobin, terminal manager for the Steamship Authority
By Julie Craven Wagner
Passengers on the Steamship Authority ferry to Martha’s Vineyard encounter a variety of emotions as they make their way across Vineyard Sound. For some, it is anticipation of another summer at their favorite place, and for others it’s the relaxed exhalation of returning home. All will find themselves in the capable graces of Terminal Manager Bridget Tobin.
Tobin, who is in her 45th year working for the Steamship Authority, says that she has “seen it all.” Back in January 1974, Tobin took what she thought would be a part-time job working in the vehicle reservation bureau and has never left. Back then reservations were entered and catalogued on index cards, and as a result, Tobin actually knew every person on the island by name. Technology has streamlined the process today, but Tobin says that they still call every reservation personally on the phone when the schedule changes due to weather. “The customers provide an email address when they make a reservation, and we send out a mass communication, but I think it is still important to call each person to make sure they understand the changes, particularly since they made the reservation so far in advance,” Tobin says.
Passengers who have an urgent need to secure passage on a boat for their vehicle are often encouraged to have a conversation with “God,” the insider nickname Tobin has earned within the organization. But Tobin says she prefers the moniker an islander bestowed upon her, the “Tobin Bridge,” and has been referred to as a “Ferry Godmother” by a particularly grateful customer.
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