The Peconic Jitney passenger water taxi connecting Sag Harbor and Greenport could return this summer, if both villages and Suffolk County agree to the arrangement.
The Peconic Jitney, a 50-foot-long passenger vessel that will accommodate 53 passengers, ran as a pilot project organized by the Hampton Jitney bus service in the summer of 2012, during which 20,000 people used the service, said Peconic Jitney General Manager Jim Ryan, as he presented this year’s plans, along with Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch, to the Sag Harbor Village Board at its March 8 meeting.
The Peconic Jitney has submitted an application for a five-year franchise license to Suffolk County, and is also seeking permission to dock at Long Wharf in Sag Harbor and at the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport, Mr. Lynch told the Sag Harbor board.
The Sag Harbor Village Board agreed March 8 to hold a public hearing on adding the use of Long Wharf for a passenger ferry to their zoning code, while Greenport Village Board members said at their March 17 work session that, while they’re not in favor of the Mitchell Park landing site, they are working to find an alternative site in the village.
Passenger ferry service between the twin forks has been a suggestion in planning studies for decades, dating back to the Sustainable East End Development Strategies (SEEDS) regional transportation study in 2006, and has also been a goal of waterfront revitalization efforts.
“We’ll be linking port hubs, and we surmised that the Peconic Jitney substantially promoted tourism and economic development in both villages, with increased foot traffic in both downtowns,” said Mr. Lynch of the original pilot program. “All the reasons that were relevant in 2012 are relevant today, if not more so.”
Mr. Lynch said the ferry service has already found a partner to offer on-board concessions on the ferry, and is working with restaurants in both villages on promotional offers.
If the Jitney receives approvals, Mr. Lynch said service would likely begin in mid-June and run through the end of September, with service seven days a week in July and August and on weekends in the shoulder seasons. There would be seven 45-minute round-trips per day, beginning at 10 a.m. from Sag Harbor, and ending at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 8 p.m. on weekdays in season. Tickets would be $20 one-way or $37 for round trips, and tickets for children under 12 would be half price. The vessel would be docked for 15 minutes in each port as passengers are boarding and leaving the ferry.
Mr. Lynch said a shuttle bus service carrying passengers from the parking lot at Pierson High School to the ferry during the 2012 pilot was barely utilized, and will not return this year. He added that there are is a new on-demand Suffolk County bus route serving Sag Harbor and Southampton.
Mr. Ryan said it is the company’s goal to continue the service on an ongoing basis.
“We recognize the first five years we’re going to be operating at a loss — it could be three or it could be five or it could be six,” he said.