Going to Greenport and Sag Harbor, Hi-ho!

Well, that flash mob I suggested in an earlier article for the Peconic Bay Water Jitney really worked! Whether due to that or just good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth, ridership on the ferry has gone up since its beginnings in late June. The service is run by the Hampton Jitney company and transports passengers between Sag Harbor and Greenport.

Originally, Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch hoped for an average of 300 riders per day, which would make it a feasible venture in the long run. While they have not quite achieved that number, ridership has steadily grown from the 175 per day reached in early- to mid-July, some days surpassing 300 riders. “Slowly and steadily, our ridership keeps increasing,” confirmed Jim Ryan, the general manager of the ferry. “We have been running at almost-capacity on weekends.”

Ryan mentioned that they have only been advertising for two weeks, which has already shown results. Probably even more of the increase is due to satisfied customers looking to spread the word about this valuable business.

Initially, some members of the community voiced concerns that the Water Jitney would cause traffic and parking problems in Sag Harbor. “It hasn’t caused the catastrophic traffic jams and parking congestion,” Ryan said. This is true for Greenport as well. A shuttle service, which allows passengers to park in local school parking lots, has circumvented this. Nevertheless, Ryan noted that the shuttle is underutilized, showing that the ferry does not create these kinds of issues.

Despite concerns such as these, the Water Jitney does indeed seem to be a hit. “According to passenger surveys,” The Sag Harbor Express reported, “the ferry service is enjoyed by most who take it, although many have begun requesting snacks and beverages, and most are reporting spending between $25 and $200 at local businesses in Sag Harbor.” Most of the riders are traveling for tourism and pleasure, which increases foot traffic through both villages.

The Village of Sag Harbor is also collecting data on the ferry to evaluate the service and help them decide how to proceed if Hampton Jitney seeks a long-term program. They have formed a Village Ferry Committee, which according to the Express is “a group that is studying the potential impact, good and bad, of the ferry on Sag Harbor Village residents.” Ryan mentioned how grateful he is to the Village and the Board of Trustees for allowing the Water Jitney to happen.

The boost in ridership and positive feedback is a good sign for the ferry, which is running with approval for just this summer on a trial basis by both villages. Hampton Jitney will assess its profitability after Labor Day weekend and discern whether or not a permanent service is viable. The rising numbers only increase the likelihood of its continuation—Ryan mentioned the possibility of buying a second boat as well. He also disclosed that it will probably remain a seasonal venture until they receive enough demand from commuters to become year-round.

The ferry currently runs back and forth from Long Wharf in Sag Harbor to Mitchell Park in Greenport, making six round trips daily from Sunday to Thursday, and seven round trips every Friday and Saturday. Adult tickets cost just $11 one-way and $20 round trip on their 53-passenger, air-conditioned vessel.

A convenient and reliable service, the Water Jitney seems to benefit passengers, businesses, and the East End in general. The fact that word of its existence spread like wildfire through local networks is a testament to its value. Hopefully they will keep seeing increased ridership so they can continue to positively impact our communities.

For more information about the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, including ferry and shuttle times, visit www.peconicjitney.com or call 631-702-8300.

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