As summer jitney rolls on, village explores bus shelters
The village jitney is up and running again, shuttling residents and visitors through Port Jefferson on summer weekends. But in its third year, village officials may take things up a notch.
At a village board of trustees meeting last Monday, Trustee Larry LaPointe announced they had received a $12,600 grant from Suffolk County to build three small shelters for people waiting to hop on the jitney.
It is a matching grant, so the village will have to kick in as much money as it accepts from the county. That may be slightly lower than the total available, as the trustees approved a proposal from Freeport-based Columbia Equipment Company to build the three red shelters for $19,500 — meaning each municipality would kick in just shy of $10,000.
LaPointe described the shelters as aluminum squares measuring 5 feet by 7 feet — the ridership numbers don’t justify building big shelters, he said — without benches inside.
“Benches attract people who want to take a nap,” he said.
Port Jefferson officials often contend with loitering vagrants or drunken people. There are frequently homeless people sleeping on the few benches around the area.
While the village could choose to put in benches down the road, LaPointe noted that because the shelters are small, leaving out a bench would improve access to the shelters for people in wheelchairs.
The shelters would be installed at the three points along the jitney route: at its start uptown on the east side of Oakland Avenue, near the Long Island Rail Road station; on the north side of Arden Place close to East Main Street; and at the harborfront park off East Broadway.
Those shelters are going to be red so they match the color of the shuttle bus.
“The shelters will really brand it — red jitney, red shelter,” LaPointe said.
The bus service, which resumed on Memorial Day, will keep trucking until Labor Day. Fare is $2, but children under 12 can ride for free.
When the jitney first started running in summer 2014, the village board saw the shuttle as a way to connect the vibrant downtown and the struggling uptown areas.
“It’s a good way to start bridging the gap between upper and lower Port,” Mayor Margot Garant said at the time. “We’ve got to get people circulating back up and down.”
Port Jefferson Village parking committee chairman George Westbay had originally presented the concept as a year-round service to link uptown and downtown, given the village’s push to revitalize the upper Port area and with a new apartment complex going up on Texaco Avenue to bring in more residents. He also saw it being used by visitors who could take the LIRR to Port Jefferson and then use the bus to go to a waterfront festival, for instance, instead of using a car.