Ferries, Scoots, Busses, Beach Rides & More


I don’t care how fancy your car is—and I have an awesome yellow VW bug, so I know what I’m talking about here—driving in the Hamptons in the summer is awful. The traffic. The lack of parking. Dodging pedestrians. Most of the time, driving is more aggravation than it’s worth. Our incessantly honking horns have spoken, and people are listening. Summer 2012 promises to ease our lead foot and clenched teeth with a multitude of public transportation options.

First on the list is the return of the much-hyped Hamptons Free Ride service. Launched last summer by friends and East Hampton natives James Mirras and Alex Esposito, Hamptons Free Ride was a huge success. Three electric shuttles, each carrying six passengers, looped between Main Beach, Main Street and the parking lot on Gingerbread Lane. The 2012 service, which will be back in action on Friday, May 25, will now expand into Montauk, with tentative plans to also serve Amagansett.

“I’m really excited about the expansion,” said Esposito, the sales and marketing director for Hamptons Free Rides. “It will be great to be in Montauk—it’s the first time that we’ll be in a hotel community.”

For those of us who know that it takes upwards of 45 minutes to circumvent the two forks, but can’t help but harp on the fact that the distance you’ve actually traveled is, as the crow flies, about nine miles, relief may be in sight. The proposed passenger ferry service from Sag Harbor to Greenport may take its inaugural voyage this summer.

The Peconic Bay Passenger Water Jitney is a service spearheaded by the Hampton Jitney’s Geoffrey Lynch and Response Marine’s Jim Ryan. East Enders will be able to travel on the 53-seater low-wake catamaran, which would be leased from the New York Water Taxi Company, and the Hampton Jitney has factored in ground service connecting Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Bridgehampton.

Sag Harbor Village currently prohibits passenger and vehicle ferries, but the board of trustees could override the ban by passing a local law. Take that!, chain stores who tell me that my “nearest location” is in Connecticut. With this ferry service, it just might be easier to get there.

At the request of Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, Lynch and Ryan will make a public presentation on their proposal at the March 13 Sag Harbor Village Board meeting so that board of trustees will better be able to understand how the community feels about the plan.

I’m all for growing businesses, but my favorite way to get to the beach has always been via bicycle. Fortunately, for fellow like-minded riders, all Suffolk County busses now have bike racks available to bus riders free of charge. The busses can each accommodate two bikes on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Also in the realm of public transportation are the East End’s forthcoming East End Shuttlescoottrains. Projected to be in place by the summer of 2014, the scoot trains would run between Eastport and Montauk on the South Fork and Ronkonkoma to Greenport on the North Fork. Advocated by the Five Town Rural Transit group, the proposed service incorporates two-car shuttle trains on the existing Long Island Railroad tracks to provide more frequent service to eastern Suffolk County. The trains, which would have a smaller diesel engine, are cost-efficient and ideal for traveling shorter distances.

With the majority of train stations situated close to the center of town, the “scoottrains could help promote intra-Island hopping. Sadly, the two-car service would not solve the problem of Amagansett, where less than two full cars fit in the station.

Of course, if none of these options will do, there’s always the Hamptons Subway.