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.