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North Ferry to start weekday early morning boat July 1

Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis, North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt and Supervisor Gary Gerth heard from residents at Town Hall June 12 that convinced them to schedule an early boat to Greenport.

Plans call for a 5 a.m. ferry to leave Shelter Island weekdays beginning July 1 to connect with the 5:25 a.m. Long Island Rail Road train heading west from Greenport on weekdays.

Some riders have asked for the early boat and North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt and Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) General Manager Stella Lagudis are ready to give it a try. HPOC owns North Ferry.

While the original idea was to have a test run between July 1 through Labor Day weekend, the test will run through Columbus Day into October.

“We should have enough data to determine if we will continue later into the year,” Ms. Lagudis said.

The 5 a.m. boat leaving the Island will take on passengers and vehicles when it docks in Greenport for the return trip to the Island.

The second boat from Shelter Island to Greenport — formerly 5:40 a.m. — will now be at 5:30 a.m. Then the ferry service will resume its regular schedule. No other changes are expected.

There’s no way the early boat will pay for staffing and fuel, Mr. Hunt said. But if it serves enough people in the community, he said, it’s a service North Ferry wants to offer.

County Legislator Bridget Fleming was at a June 12 meeting at Town Hall discussing the issue, along with members of the town’s Ferry Study Group. One woman in the audience suggested that there may actually be fewer people during the summer using the early boat regularly, but that after Labor Day, more would adjust schedules to get to New York.

A lot of people would like to see a regular early ferry, said Peter Reich, a former councilman and current member of the Ferry Study Committee. But how often they would use it is “an important piece to this puzzle.”

Multi-transportation is always difficult in rural areas “so kudos to North Ferry for making it work,” County Legislator Fleming said.