04/25/13 4:00pm
04/25/2013 4:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | The Peconic Bay Water Jitney will not run this summer.

Citing the need to apply for federal grant money, Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan confirmed Tuesday that the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, the water taxi that made daily round trips from Greenport to Sag Harbor last summer, will not run this year.

“This is part of developing the business plan based on the facts we developed during the pilot program,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview. “It’s just part of the process.”

Mr. Ryan, who runs the company with Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch, said the Water Jitney is in the process of applying for a federal grant, which may require letters of recommendation from community leaders.

“From our standpoint the water shuttle was a great success,” said Greenport Mayor David Nyce, who said he’d write a recommendation letter on behalf of the Water Jitney should the need arise. “It’s disappointing it will not return this summer. We understand they have financial issues now, but I’m hopeful they will be able to resolve it.”

Mr. Ryan said that the Water Jitney, a half-million-dollar project, launched late last June and ran seven days a week through September, transporting about 17,000 passengers. While it did not make a profit, it came close to breaking even, he said.

The company spent roughly $100,000 last year on unforeseen costs, including $50,000 for the use of local parking lots and another $50,000 for bus transportation to and from those parking lots.

“The fear, which was understandable, was that anyone looking to use the service was going to park right down in the village, which was not the case,” Mr. Ryan said. “Now we can eliminate those costs because the need wasn’t there for it.”

Local business owners expressed hope that the water taxi would be back for another season.

“In a maritime community we should have connection by water to the other fork,” said Caroline Waloski, owner of the Sirens’ Song Gallery in Greenport. She said the ferry was “packed” every time she went on it.

“For economic health on the whole East End, I think it’s a very important thing to have,” Ms. Waloski added. “I hope they rethink this and bring it back.”

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01/09/13 3:00pm
01/09/2013 3:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Peconic Bay Water Jitney that had a trial run between Greenport and Sag Harbor last summer is unlikely to return this summer.

Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch, a partner with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan in last summer’s Peconic Bay Water Jitney pilot program, reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board Tuesday night he doesn’t expect the water taxi that ran between Greenport Village and Sag Harbor to float a second season.

It would take an infusion of money from the federal government for the partners to continue the service, Mr. Lynch reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board.

He said while the ferry service was a huge hit with riders last summer, financially it was “a bust.”

It wasn’t the first time that Mr. Lynch made the comments about the unlikelihood of resuming water taxi service next summer. In September, he told the East End Transportation Council he didn’t envision a second season. Despite running five trips a day and carrying more than 15,000 passengers since it launched the passenger service in June, he said then, “It’s not a moneymaker.”

Barring investors showing an interest in underwriting the service, he said it wouldn’t be running again. The East End Transportation Council has been charged with exploring mass transit alternatives for the region and has representatives from the five East End towns.

At the time, Mr. Ryan denied that the ferry service wouldn’t resume in 2013. He was unavailable for comment today.

Greenport Village Board member Mary Bess Phillips said Mr. Lynch has asked to make a presentation to that group at either at its January 21 work session or January 28 regular meeting. But she had no information on the content of that presentation.

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09/19/12 5:00pm
09/19/2012 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | The Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney, which ran five daily round trips between Sag Harbor and Greenport all summer long, might not be back next year unless investors show an interest in underwriting the business, according to a Shelter Island Town Board member.

The 53-passenger ferry, running seven days a week until recently, has carried more than 15,000 people since launching at the end of June, but “it’s not a moneymaker” yet,  Councilwoman Chris Lewis told the Shelter Island Town Board Tuesday while reporting on an East End Transportation Council meeting she attended last week. The council, charged with exploring mass transit alternatives for the region, comprises representatives from the five East End towns.

Ms. Lewis said Geoffrey Lynch, president of Hampton Jitney, had reported at the meeting on the Water Jitney’s first season in operation and predicted that it wouldn’t be back. Mr. Lynch  partnered with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan to launch the service.

According to Ms. Lewis, Mr. Lynch said there will be “no second summer” for the ferry unless investors are found.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Ryan denied the claim that the passenger ferry won’t be back next season if investors aren’t secured.

“[Mr. Lynch’s] intention sounds like he was looking for additional investors to help support the service,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Lynch wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The ferry was not a moneymaker, Ms. Lewis said, because there had been “so much outlay.”  Mr. Ryan agreed, but said he and Mr. Lynch knew the first season wouldn’t turn a profit.

“Before we even started, we knew we would run in the red,” Mr. Ryan said. “Next year, we’ll probably run in the red again. At this point, we’re focused on developing ridership.”

The 40-minute ferry run cost passengers $11 one way and $20 round trip.

Among the costs were $12,000 to rent parking lots in Sag Harbor and Greenport and the expense of shuttling passengers from their cars to the ferry terminals, which was a required service to ease concerns in both villages about downtown traffic congestion.

“They had hoped to pick up some commuter” traffic between the North and South forks, Ms. Lewis said, “but that didn’t work.”  Nevertheless, the partners continue to be interested. According to Ms. Lewis, the service generated so much enthusiasm that they had been encouraged “but they clearly need investors.”

Jennifer Gustavson contributed reporting for this story.

09/08/12 7:00am
09/08/2012 7:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the water taxi earlier this summer.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney officials announced this week that its passenger ferry service linking the North and South forks will run through September.

The 100-day temporary approval granted in June by the Suffolk County Legislature allows the water taxi to shuttle passengers between Greenport and Sag Harbor villages until Sept. 28.

But ferry officials said Wednesday they believe they might be able to extend ferry operations an additional few days, if the Legislature approves an amendment to the plan during its next general meeting Sept. 13.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who launched the ferry plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said he and Mr. Lynch have decided to extend service past Labor Day to find out if the 45-minute ride is popular during September festivals in both villages.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to have a better look at the look at the off-season,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan said he didn’t need additional approvals from Greenport or Sag Harbor to run the ferry until Sept. 28 because those municipalities already agreed to allow the pilot program to operate through October.

Although the ferry had low ridership when it first launched in June, Mr. Ryan said he believes the pilot program was a success. After this season wraps up, he said he will work with both communities to tweak any changes to the plan before reintroducing it to Greenport and Sag Harbor next year. Peconic Bay Water Jitney customers have also provided feedback by answering questionnaires while aboard the boat, he added.

“We’ll only move forward with the input and support of both villages,” Mr. Ryan said. “Otherwise we won’t do it.”

The September schedule runs Thursday through Monday with extra late-day trips on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be no ferry service on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

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06/19/12 1:37pm
06/19/2012 1:37 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the water taxi.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney passenger ferry linking the North and South forks is expected to be operational June 30 now that the Suffolk County Legislature has unanimously approved the ferry’s fares, schedule and license.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who is proposing the 100-day water taxi pilot plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said the county’s approval was the final piece needed in order to launch the first-ever Greenport-Sag Harbor passenger ferry.

In an interview after the Legislature approved the plan Tuesday, Mr. Ryan said he’s “delighted” about the county’s decision.

“We’re printing the tickets right now,” he said.

The estimated 40-minute ride will cost $11 for adults one way, $20 round trip. Fares for children under 12 would be $5.50 one way, $11 round trip.

CHECK OUT A VIDEO FROM ON BOARD THE FERRY

Mr. Ryan said his brother, John, a Catholic priest, will bless the boat June 27.

Mr. Ryan had said he planned to shrink wrap the boat with Hampton Jitney’s colors — silver and green. But on Tuesday, he said he has decided to color the boat navy, gray and black.

This is the second time in the past two years that Mr. Ryan has proposed the alternative transportation project.

The most recent plan includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages. Hampton Jitney will shuttle passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. On the North Fork, shuttle service will be provided between Greenport School and Mitchell Park Marina.

The 53-passenger vessel will tie up at Mitchell Park near the camera obscura.

The ferry will make seven trips from each port Sundays through Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. from Greenport. There will be nine daily departures from each port Thursdays through Saturdays.

The route between the North and South forks will hug the western shoreline of Shelter Island. During bad weather, an alternative route would move along the island’s eastern side. The ferry’s captain will ultimately decide the safest course through commercial channels, Mr. Ryan said.

The vessel was built in 2003 by Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn., for New York Water Taxi, which has leased it to Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

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06/05/12 4:00pm
06/05/2012 4:00 PM

A passenger ferry linking the North and South forks could be operational later this month if Sag Harbor Village and Suffolk County officials sign-off on the plan.

Sag Harbor Village, which agreed last month to amend its anti-ferry code to allow the water taxi to operate on a 100-day trial, is expected to vote on the Peconic Bay Water Jitney application June 12. If approved, the Suffolk County Legislature will vote on the ferry’s fares and schedule June 19.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who is proposing the water taxi plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said he’s confident the 53-passenger vessel will launch the same day the county signs-off on the plan.

If approved, one-way tickets for the estimated 40-minute ride for adults will cost $11 and round-trips $20. One-way fares for children under 12 would cost $5.50 and round-trips $11.

Mr. Ryan has said the ferry would depart Greenport daily at 7 a.m. with seven departures from each port Sunday through Wednesday. From Thursday through Saturday, there would be a total of nine departures from each port.

The vessel was built in 2003 by Direktors Shipyard in Bridgeport, Conn., for the New York Water Taxi, which has leased it to Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

The route between the North and South forks would hug the western shoreline of Shelter Island. During bad weather, an alternative route would move along the island’s eastern side. But the ferry’s captain will ultimately decide the safest course through commercial channels, Mr. Ryan said.

Read more about the Peconic Bay Water Jitney plan in the next issue of The Suffolk Times, on newsstands Thursday.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the water taxi.

05/10/12 3:38pm
05/10/2012 3:38 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan would like to see a water taxi like this operating between Greenport and Sag Harbor.

The Greenport Village Board unanimously approved Thursday a proposed passenger ferry plan linking the North and South forks temporarily this summer.

Earlier this week, the Sag Harbor Village Board approved a measure to amend its code, which bars ferries, to allow the ferry to operate on a 100-day trial.

Under the proposed plan, the water taxi would dock at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor Village. Greenport Village officials said the passenger ferry will use Mitchell Park Marina.

According to Sag Harbor village attorney Fred Thiele, a separate public hearing to discuss their application, as well as docking and land-use approvals, are required. A state environmental study, known as SEQRA, is also needed, he said.

In addition, Suffolk County must sign off on the water taxi’s fares and schedule.

Click on the blog below for a recap and pick up next week’s paper for more on this story.

05/08/12 6:00pm
05/08/2012 6:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Sag Harbor Village Board amended its law Tuesday to allow a Greenport-Sag Harbor water taxi to operate this summer.

The Sag Harbor Village Board approved Tuesday changes to its local laws that would allow a Greenport-Sag Harbor water taxi to operate in the village this summer.

The Village Board voted 4-1 to change its code, which bars ferries.

Trustee Timothy Culver cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney plan, proposed by Jim Ryan of Response Marine and Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, will run for 100 days starting in July.

The Greenport Village Board is expected to vote on the plan itself Thursday at a special meeting.

Pick up Thursday’s paper for complete coverage and click below for a recap from the Sag Harbor Village Board meeting.

04/27/12 4:00pm
04/27/2012 4:00 PM

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has temporarily closed Sag Harbor Cove due to biotoxins.

The presence of marine biotoxins may result in making shellfish hazardous to eat. Within the past few weeks the DEC also closed Mattituck Inlet and Creek and 2,900 acres in the Peconic Estuary’s westernmost reaches straddling Riverhead and Southampton Towns to shellfishing due to the presence of a biotoxin, a naturally occurring substance.

The Sag Harbor alert wasn’t widely released, but was sent to some private individuals with ties to the fishing industry.

The affected area includes the cove and its tributaries lying west of the northbound lanes of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects Sag Harbor to North Haven.

The ban on shellfishing will continue until the DEC can determine that marine biotoxin levels are no longer hazardous, according to a DEC statement.

Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips raised the question of the possible impact the closing might have on proposed water taxi service between Sag Harbor and Greenport.

“The proposed water taxi between Sag Harbor and Greenport is a problem with this biotoxin,” she said. “With the amount of aquaculture that is in our Peconic Estuary system, we have issues.”

She called for discussion about whether the proposed water taxi service might “damage a segment of the commercial fishing industry,” although current sites being discussed docking the water taxi are outside the cove area.

Ms. Phillips and her husband, Capt. Mark Phillips, operate a fishing fleet out of Greenport and the retail Alice’s Fish Market in the village.

Bill Faulk, an aide to county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), said his office has asked the DEC to provide a plan of action.

“We’re concerned about this affecting the Peconic Bay region,” Mr. Faulk said.

Mr. Romaine and Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) weren’t immediately available for comment.

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