Hampton Jitney plans to revive Greenport-Sag Harbor shuttle ferry
Hampton Jitney has taken steps to potentially reintroduce passenger ferry service between Greenport and Sag Harbor.
During a working session of the Greenport Village board of directors on Thursday evening, company president Geoff Lynch told directors the company wanted to revive the Peconic Jitney subsidiary, which operated on a pilot basis during summer 2012.
âOur goal on this proposed passenger ferry is to directly connect these two villages and potentially reduce congestion on local roads, not to further tax the limited parking in the two villages and to increase foot traffic and tourism in these two cities in a sustainable way, âhe said.
Peconic Jitney is applying for a five-year franchise license from Suffolk County, hoping to restart ferry services in 2022. The plan is to establish landing sites on the municipal property of the two villages, pending the local authorization. The ferry route would operate seasonally, at least initially, with routes around the western or eastern shoreline of Shelter Island, depending on sea and weather conditions.
Services would start around Memorial Day weekend and end around Columbus Day weekend. Mr Lynch said the ferry would only operate on weekends at the start and end of the season, with regular seven-day service in July and August.
âPeconic Jitney intends to build on lessons learned from the 2012 pilot program to provide this service,â Lynch said, adding that the program is based on the recommendations of a 2005 study which suggested that water transportation on Peconic Bay would help the infrastructure accommodate a growing population in the region.
He pointed out that the volume of tourists and residents has “grown a lot over the past decade,” creating a larger customer base than in 2012, when the ferry program only served 123 passengers in one. 100 day pilot.
Mr Lynch said that a supplier partnership with local waterfront restaurant Claudio’s “allowed us to come in and watch [the ferry service] long term. âClaudio’s would sell concessions on the ferry, and if Mitchell Marina was found to be unfit for service, the restaurant offered to provide Crabby Jerry’s pier as an alternative, according to Mr. Lynch.
Peconic Jitney is reportedly using the same ship as ten years ago, which âbecame available this yearâ from New York Cruise Lines. The ship was fully refurbished just over a year ago, making it “essentially like new”, according to Lynch.
He said he met informally with the mayor of Sag Harbor, who seemed supportive of the initiative.
Administrator Julia Robins has raised concerns about parking, noting that the village is already facing “a pretty tight parking situation”.
âThat would probably be my biggest concern. Where are people going to park? she said.
Mr. Lynch responded that the company was able to lease the parking lots for the Greenport and Sag Harbor school districts in 2012.
“It was a lot of money for the rental contracts and [the program was] really underused. I understand the concern, I don’t know if it is necessary to re-enter into this type of agreement, âhe said, adding that the company had discussed the potential of a similar partnership with Claudio’s during the peak summer months and Hampton Jitney can operate a shuttle service if required.
Ms Robins asked if the program could pose a risk to the safety of children in the village, which Mr Lynch said was not an issue in 2012. He suggested the ferry service would not result in an increase. significant traffic.
âI don’t know by how much we would actually increase the volume of cars entering the village. I know people coming from Sag Harbor to this village don’t bring their cars and so there is a lag there, âhe said.
Administrator Mary Bess Phillips asked to see a detailed business plan for the service which includes the lease amount, potential benefits to the village and what services would be required from the village.
âIt’s still really in the initial stages. We started talking about it before COVID and we actually put money into some boat designs and really, it became what we thought was a more achievable service when Claudio approached us to reintroduce this, âreplied Mr. Lynch, acknowledging that the marina may be too crowded for ferry service.
He said the 50-foot boat would use the marina for about 15 minutes, seven times a day, so that shouldn’t have too much of an impact. The marina provides cover against the wind and more open space for people to congregate, making Mitchell Park – from an accountability standpoint – a more convenient option for the business, Lynch said.
âMy main goal tonight, aside from reintroducing this idea, is to see what the appetite is,â he added.
Administrator Peter Clarke appeared to favor the idea, saying he would like to see more water travel to the East End. Mayor George Hubbard also asked to see a detailed business plan before making a decision.
The company must confirm landing sites on both sides and a franchise license from Suffolk County before it can implement the ferry service, Mr Lynch said. Village attorney Joseph Prokop said in addition to Greenport’s clearance, Peconic Jitney likely needs one or two more board approvals.