The Peconic Bay Water Jitney started service on June 28 for a 100-day trial. It will carry 53 passengers (no cars) to and from Greenport and Sag Harbor. It will be very interesting to see how this works into East End life.
On the good side, it will be incredibly convenient for a lot of people, not just shoppers, but residents too. It will be a blessing to many Islanders who have relatives—and I speak here from years of personal experience—on both forks who call you for a ride across the Island from one ferry to the other. It will be a nice 40-minute ride, and a peaceful one for those who can turn off their cellphones and iPads. Actually, I’d recommend that because salt spray can do terrible damage to electronics.
It will be great for people who are really late with an assignment. You can say you left your iPad on the ferry, or dropped it in the water when somebody shoved you. It sure beats the heck out of “the dog ate my homework.” It’s a excellent low tech excuse for a high tech problem. The water taxi will also reduce schleppage. Schleppage is the amount of bags and bundles you have to schlep with you when going from one fork to another. With the water taxi, you schlep everything once when you get on the boat and once more when you get off the boat. No more dragging stuff on and off one ferry, finding a cross Island ride, and then schlepping everything on and off another ferry.
One nice thing about it being an all passenger ferry is that if something happens to the motor, they can put 26 people on each side of the ferry with long oars to row her the rest of the way. And what about the extra person you ask? That’s the one who beats a barrel with his hands to pace the rowers, just like in Ben-Hur.
I’m not sure about the name, Peconic Bay Water Jitney, it’s too long. It could be called the Sag Port Jitney. How about the East Ender Tender? Personally, I like the Saggy Green Express.
On the bad side of this new taxi, it will cut into the ferries’ revenues and I hate for that to happen. But there might be a silver lining there for the crews. They work so hard in the hot summer sun and constantly have to remind tourists who stand in front of the big red lines near the gates that read “DO NOT STAND IN FRONT OF THIS LINE,” to not stand in front of that line. It’s also not okay to let the kids stand by the gates so they can see the churning water. We lose five or six tourist kids a year that way and it’s such a nuisance when they go overboard. The ferry has to turn around and get them and that makes everybody else on the ferry late.
I also feel bad for the shop owners who will lose some of that cross- Island business. On the other hand, if the Saggy Green Express is a hit, maybe we could work a deal where they make one port of call somewhere on the Island so people could get off and shop or have lunch. After which, they might get back on the water taxi, or take one of the Island ferries. Our ferries could offer incentives, like letting people ride in tubes off the back of the boat—I always thought that would be fun.