The Suffolk County Legislature approved the licensing of a trial Sag Harbor to Greenport passenger ferry service on Tuesday. It was the final hurdle to clear for Geoffrey Lynch of Hampton Jitney and Jim Ryan of Response Marine in Greenport to initiate the pilot program. Trips by the 53-passenger boat are expected to begin just prior to the July Fourth weekend and run through Labor Day weekend.
At the request of County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, resolutions to authorize the license and set rates and to okay the extension of the lease of Long Wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor were given priority at the Legislature’s meeting. Both resolutions were approved unanimously.
“There is financial risk involved,” Mr. Schneiderman said after the vote, “but it is not for the taxpayer, it’s for the Peconic Jitney.”
The new entity will determine if there is sufficient demand to sustain the business. “I don’t underestimate them,” the legislator said, “they know the clientele who will use it.” The Jitney, he said, carries those without cars every hour to New York City, “and those buses are packed.”
Many have said they were worried about traffic, Mr. Schneiderman said, “but I think people will come to the area from the North Fork without their cars. That is something that we can now measure.”
The legislator said he hopes the pilot project succeeds and expands to other places. “Getting around the East End without a car . . . it is important,” he said. “If fears are realized,” he said, the service will not be continued. If it is successful, in 10 years it will be part of village life, he said, expressing his appreciation for the courage the Greenport and Sag Harbor Village Boards showed in embracing the idea.
Water travel is a part of the maritime history of the two villages, Mr. Schneiderman said, and the ferry service will bring the North and South Forks together. “They are two of my favorite villages,” he said, “and I think it will be great to go from one to another without a car.”