Now that it has the approval of the Suffolk County Legislature, as early as next Thursday, the Peconic Bay Water Jitney will make its inaugural voyage from Greenport to Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, the legislature voted unanimously to grant the service a license and approved the rates it will charge to transport customers on the passenger ferry between Greenport and Sag Harbor villages on a trail basis this summer.
It was the last step the Peconic Bay Water Jitney needed to begin service between Mitchell Park Pier in Greenport and Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. Both villages have already approved the venture, which will be run by a new corporation formed by the Hampton Jitney and Response Marine.
“We don’t have everything yet,” said Jim Ryan, president of Response Marine and a principal in the Peconic Bay Water Jitney corporation, which is being funded by Hampton Jitney’s president, Geoffrey Lynch. “I need a successful summer season and then I feel comfortable saying, ‘We have everything we need.’ Honestly, I am just grateful we received the approvals to operate.”
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman — one of the leading supporters of the ferry service — said on Tuesday he hopes it is a success this summer and that it could potentially be expanded to other ports like Montauk.
“We are just testing this idea, but I do believe it will reduce car traffic, bring the North and South forks closer together and provide a little relief for Shelter Island, which deals with the brunt of car traffic travelling between the Forks,” said Schneiderman. “It will be good for businesses, who will see more foot traffic, and it may pave the way for expanding to other waterfront villages or hamlets like Montauk.”
Schneiderman added the service is only allowed on a trial basis and this is an opportunity to try out a concept discussed as a possible transportation alternative for years — water-based transportation around the East End.
“I applaud the village board in Sag Harbor for having the courage to allow this to be tried out,” said Schneiderman. “Assuming the numbers work out for the Jitney, and it isn’t too burdensome on village residents, this could be the kind of thing where people end up fighting to ensure this kind of service is never taken away. It could become a part of the fabric of Sag Harbor’s waterfront, which let’s not forget has a rich maritime history.”
Ryan confirmed the 53-person catamaran, which will be blue and grey displaying the Peconic Bay Water Taxi logo with the traditional Hampton Jitney wave, will have its inaugural voyage on Thursday, June 28. On Wednesday, June 27 his brother John Ryan, a Catholic priest, will bless the vessel at Mitchell Park at 10 a.m.
The ferry, which Lynch said will operate through Labor Day weekend, will offer seven round trips between Greenport and Sag Harbor Monday through Thursday and add two additional round trips on weekend nights.
The boat will depart from Greenport at 7 a.m. with the first departure from Sag Harbor scheduled at 8 a.m. Departures will be every hour, alternating from Greenport to Sag Harbor.
The Suffolk County Legislature has approved a one-way passenger fare of $11, and a round trip ticket price of $20. Children under 12 are offered a round-trip ticket for $11 and a one-way ticket for $6. Bicycles will be stowed gratis.