01/11/13 12:00pm

COURTESY PHOTO | The Greenport-Sag Harbor water taxi seen in its inaugural, and most likely last, season.

While he’s not officially pulling the plug on the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, partner Geoff Lynch told Times/Review Newsgroup Thursday it would take a “multi-million dollar” infusion of money for the Greenport-Sag Harbor water taxi service to sail again this summer.

Mr. Lynch, who confirmed an earlier report this week after he spoke at the Sag Harbor Village Board, is president of Hampton Jitney, which partnered with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan in a pilot program last summer. Hampton Jitney can’t put up the money it would take to keep the enterprise afloat, Mr. Lynch said.

“We can’t do it alone,” he added.

There were no expectations the business would make money on the initial season, Mr. Lynch said, but there were higher expectations on numbers of passengers taking the excursions around Shelter Island to both forks.

At the end of the season Mr. Lynch told the East End Transportation Council — a group of representatives from the five eastern towns exploring transportation services — the water taxi carried about 15,000 passengers since it launched in June 2012. Those who used the service praised it, Mr. Lynch said.

“We had nothing but positive feedback,” he said.

He said he hopes that at some point there will be water-borne service on Peconic Bay such as the water taxi offered, but held out little hope for the 2013 season.

He is expected to carry the same message he gave to the Sag Harbor Village Board last week to Greenport at that Village Board work session on Tuesday, January 22, or the regular meeting on Monday, January 28.

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01/09/13 1:42pm

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.

09/19/12 5:00pm

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.

07/04/12 7:00pm

East End visitors can now see the North and South Forks on the same day and by foot — and without ever setting one on Shelter Island.

They now have the option to take a 40-minute ride aboard the new Peconic Bay Water Jitney passenger ferry, which was launched last weekend.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who proposed the 100-day water taxi pilot plan jointly with Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch, said the new ferry operation linking Greenport and Sag Harbor has gone “very well.”

Although Mr. Ryan couldn’t provide totals from the company’s first weekend, he said the 53-passenger ferry was near capacity twice on Sunday. The schedule calls for seven round-trips a day on Sundays.

“Every day there’s an increase in ridership,” Mr. Ryan said by phone Monday while aboard a Greenport-bound ferry. “There’s about 28 people here now … We’ve been on schedule. So far, so good.”

In Greenport, passengers board or get off the catamaran at a spot between the camera obscura attraction and the village marina office in Mitchell Park. From there, the ferry hugs the Shelter Island shoreline and docks at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

Last Friday, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride — along with Village Clerk Beth Kamper, Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Department of Public Works head Dee Yardley — took an initial 10 a.m. run to Greenport to experience the trip firsthand.

“The ride was very enjoyable,” Mr. Gilbride said. “I plan to take my kids and grandkids here.”

While in Greenport, Sag Harbor village officials ate brunch at the Coronet, visited Village Hall and window-shopped.

“It was a great trip and beautiful ride,” Ms. Kamper said.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney also includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages.

On the South Fork, Hampton Jitney has been shuttling passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock in Sag Harbor.

On the North Fork, shuttle service is set to start next weekend, and will run between Greenport School — where people park — and Mitchell Park Marina on Saturdays and Sundays.

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 ride costs $11 for adults one way and $20 round trip. There is no charge for bags, luggage, bicycles or pets, company officials said.

For more information, visit peconicjitney.com.