“It’s such an important idea that it deserves a chance,” County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said yesterday, speaking in support of the county’s authorization of a ferry license for Hampton Jitney, operating as the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, to run a passenger service between Greenport and Sag Harbor.
Tuesday’s hearing at the county offices in Hauppauge was opened and closed, and now the bill is eligible for a vote in the Public Works and Transportation Committee, which Mr. Schneiderman leads. He expects the bill to be discharged from the committee without recommendation on Tuesday, which will make it eligible for a vote by the Legislature a week later. The reason for that expectation is that the committee doesn’t want to approve a license for a use not yet permitted by the Village of Sag Harbor. The committee’s meeting will take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, while the Sag Harbor Village Board will not vote on the matter until its monthly board meeting later that evening.
If the village passes the measure, Mr. Schneiderman anticipates that the county will approve the license on June 19. Greenport has already approved the water jitney’s use of its village dock.
Fares should be settled then as well, the legislator said: $20 for a round-trip ticket and $11 one-way. He said Jeff Lynch, Hampton Jitney’s president, has committed to a half-price fare for children under 15.
Ownership and management of Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf, where the water jitney plans to drop off and pick up passengers, was also discussed Tuesday in Hauppauge. As it stands now, the village is a holdover tenant. Its lease with the county expired in June 2011, which makes the county the managing agent for the wharf.
“To clear up the confusion, I filed a bill yesterday that will also be eligible for committee vote on Tuesday, and on the floor on June 19, to extend the lease until the end of December,” Mr. Schneiderman said. The extension would allow Sag Harbor to make the decisions on matters concerning the wharf, including where the water jitney would dock.
Mr. Schneiderman said he believes the revenues collected from Long Wharf will continue to go solely to the village, which will have an opportunity to charge the jitney a reasonable fee for the use of the wharf.
“Give it a season, see if it works,” the legislator said, “then take it from there and decide if you want to continue it. I think it’s a great idea to connect the two villages.”
Mr. Schneiderman, who said he is seriously considering running for the office he once held, East Hampton Town supervisor, feels the water jitney would reduce traffic by encouraging visitors to travel to the area by public transportation. And, he said, those who wish to go to Sag Harbor from points east to take the water jitney to the North Fork could use the county’s S92 bus route, which is able to adjust schedules to work with those of the water jitney.
“I expect the lease extension to pass, and the license and fares to pass,” Mr. Schneiderman said. If the Village of Sag Harbor approves Tuesday, the water jitney will become a reality. “Once its up and running, I think people will find that it did not produce the traffic or parking problems they feared.”