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Peconic Bay Water Jitney: No Sag Harbor-Greenport Ferry In 2013 Without New Funding

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Colleen Reynolds   Jan 9, 2013 8:54 AM
Jan 9, 2013 10:00 AM

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney will not run its passenger ferry service between Sag Harbor and Greenport again this summer unless new funding—possibly from the federal government—turns up, Hampton Jitney President Geoff Lynch told the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday night.

Mr. Lynch’s comments came during a brief presentation on the ferry service, which started as a pilot program last summer, but mirror an interview he gave in the fall, when he said the ferry couldn’t continue without entering into a public-private partnership involving public transit funding.

“Anecdotally, I would say that this service was a huge hit,” Mr. Lynch told the board. “Financially, it certainly was a bust.”

He repeated that he and his business partner, Jim Ryan, the marine operations manager for the Water Jitney, have no immediate plans to go forward with service this year, but he hopes to get federal funding to fund the capital expenses; namely, the boats, and start-up costs. Although the service used just one boat this past summer, he said one vessel was insufficient.

Credit card data from the ferry passengers indicate that the majority were local residents, Mr. Lynch said. “The appetite for it, at least from a local perspective, is there,” he said, adding that he thinks there is potential for a much broader market.

The ferry had a total of 16,650 passengers during its run from June 28 to September 30, averaging out to about 195 passengers daily, below the more than 300 anticipated last spring.

The company grossed about $160,000 in revenue, but “we spent a heck of a lot more,” Mr. Lynch said. Start-up costs and maintenance were part of the loss, and the company went over budget in fuel.

Should the Water Jitney look to resume its service, it essentially would need to start from scratch, as its permit and a local law allowing temporary ferry service expired.

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Exactly what our federal govt (or state, or county) can least afford to (and should not) get into these days.
By zaz (175), East Hampton on Jan 9, 13 10:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
So, basically his business plan/model was not profitable, so he wants the taxpayers to help him out so he can make a profit? I don't understand...
By Nature (2546), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 13 10:39 AM
No, you understand perfectly.
By C Law (284), Water Mill on Jan 9, 13 10:48 AM
3 members liked this comment
Right on Nature.
By dnice (1314), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 13 12:40 PM
Supply and demand will take care of this, without public financing.
By PBR (4364), Southampton on Jan 9, 13 12:35 PM
Looks like it already did . . .
By Nature (2546), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 13 12:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
It was not a convenient commuter service, but a great boat ride. Maybe they can reinvent it more as a tourist service. A "Circle Line" type of tour of the Peconic Bay or perhaps working with wineries, restaurants, and other businesses offering incentives for people to use the boat as a way of shopping or dining at their establishments. The justification for government money for this venture I agree is difficult to sell unless maybe there is a ecotourism/education aspect to it with part of the revenues ...more
By V.Tomanoku (599), southampton on Jan 9, 13 1:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
There you go. Good ideas.

Shifting the focus off the commuter type schedule could permit lots of possible solutions. As many recognize, the boat ride in and of itself is top notch. How about solutions which would permit someone to stay on the boat for a few hours, with limited food service on board, or BYOB and food. Around Shelter Island perhaps, with a lunch stop at anchor in a convenient location depending on the prevailing wind? Winner!

Solutions which rely on the weather for ...more
By PBR (4364), Southampton on Jan 9, 13 1:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
... how 'bout they give everybody a fishing rod ?
By William Rodney (227), southampton on Jan 10, 13 6:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sounds like the Jitney folks are taking a page out of the Obama Playbook. The gubmint will pay for it, don't worry.
By bigfresh (1166), north sea on Jan 10, 13 8:01 AM
No, its the wall street playbook. Subsidize losses with taxpayer money and privatize profits.
By C Law (284), Water Mill on Jan 10, 13 8:20 AM
3 members liked this comment
"gubmint"? More casual rascism on the board.
By zaz (175), East Hampton on Jan 11, 13 10:12 AM
They grossed $ 160,000 in 3 months and lost money? Id like to see what the expenses are- they already had the boat. So they had to pay a captain and crew, insurance and fuel ("went over budget on fuel" although fuel prices didn't change significantly betwen July and Sept- sounds like poor budgeting).

I agree with Nature- this was a failed business plan and instead of fixing it the owner is looking for a handout- or a way out. So be it.
By CaptainSig (418), Dutch Harbor on Jan 12, 13 6:44 AM
160K gross is a very low number. All of the things that you mentioned could push them over that number easily
By razza5350 (1516), East Hampton on Jan 14, 13 2:55 PM
Other sources report operating costs of:

lease of vessel $110,000
insurance $41,000
staff wages $86,000
vessel fuel $91,000
shuttle service for passengers $74,000
docking fees $24,000
By PBR (4364), Southampton on Jan 14, 13 3:12 PM
okay- I didn't know they leased the boat. But your expenses add up to around $425,000. The article says they had 190 passengers a day, they planned on about 300. If they grossed $160,000 with 190 pax/day wouldn't they only gross around 33% more, or around $215,000 with 300 pax/day? With the same fixed costs you listed? I'm doing this in my head but it doesn't sound like a viable business from the start
By CaptainSig (418), Dutch Harbor on Jan 14, 13 7:54 PM
They probably did not expect to be profitable for the first year or two. As is generally recommended for all new businesses, the owners should expect to have ALL operating costs in the bank (in advance) for at least the first year.

They would have hoped to come closer to break-even though IMO.

It is only after a year or two of running a new business that one finds out in hindsight whether the business model was viable.

"Crying poor" at this stage is both premature and ...more
By PBR (4364), Southampton on Jan 16, 13 10:14 AM
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