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Early boat debuts in Greenport

Early risers can now depart Shelter Island for Greenport an hour earlier as a new 5 a.m. ferry officially began service Monday for weekday travelers.

The earlier ferry will allow Shelter Island residents to catch the first Long Island Rail Road train out of Greenport at 5:25 a.m., according to Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac). The North Ferry Co. is moving its second boat 10 minutes ahead — from 5:40 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. — to accommodate travelers trying to catch the 5:55 a.m. Hampton Jitney from Greenport.

At a public meeting last month on Shelter Island, residents expressed the need for an earlier ferry.

Ms. Fleming worked with North Ferry general manager Bridg Hunt and Stella Lagudis, Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) general manager, to push the effort forward with the intent of offering greater public transportation options. HPOC owns North Ferry.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) attended a Tuesday press conference in Greenport  with Ms. Fleming announcing the new ferry.

“We appreciate this effort by North Ferry  to accommodate this request in adjusting its morning schedule, allowing passengers connecting to the LIRR to get to Penn Station, the airports, and medical appointments at earlier times,” Ms. Fleming said.

The effort, officials say, will also help keep the area green.

“As our community continues to experience adverse effects of a changing climate,” Ms. Fleming said Tuesday, “it is essential that we continue to support an inter-connected public transportation system that will reduce both carbon emission and traffic congestion. The local economy benefits when residents are well served by multi-passenger transportation options and can get away from reliance on individual cars.”

Mr. Hunt said the company was happy to meet customers’ demands, while working to protect the environment.

Elizabeth Galle of Shelter Island, a member of the Island’s Ferry Study Group, said the change allows residents with more flexible schedules to choose their working hours, avoid the morning rush and better coordinate flight plans. Ms. Galle said that for her husband, this new ferry time is life-changing.

LIRR President Phil Eng added: “Connectivity throughout our regional transportation network is paramount to providing the best possible customer service to residents and visitors.”