Hear ye: new ferry from NYC to Port Jeff

Hear ye: new ferry from NYC to Port Jeff

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If you could wave a wand and make all the summer weekend traffic on Long Island’s highways disappear, it would be a miracle, right? Well, we should prepare ourselves for a miracle, because one is about to touch down at Port Jefferson. Specifically, it will arrive, starting tomorrow, May 22, and will last through Sunday and every summer weekend thereafter.

This miracle to which I refer is a high-speed ferry that will carry walk-on passengers back and forth from New York City to Port Jefferson three times every Friday, once on Saturday and again three times on Sundays.

In so doing, it will, of course, provide an alternate route not only to Port Jefferson but also, thanks to its alliance with the Port Jeff ferry and the Hampton Jitney, to points east and north. Do you hear the announcement, “North Shore, North Fork, Hamptons and the wineries”? What a stimulus this can be for business even as it is a long overdue benefit for passengers.

A partnership between Seastreak, the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry and Hampton Jitney is making this new mode of transportation possible. These companies will link the tristate area, even tying into the New Jersey coast.

The seasonal weekend service is called Sea Jitney, and it will use the Port Jefferson dock as its hub. Hampton Jitney service will carry passengers to their preferred destinations elsewhere in Suffolk, and the Port Jeff ferry can take them to Connecticut and Amtrak.

“Seastreak has been an innovator in introducing new ferry services from New York City to destinations such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket,” said Jim Barker, president of Seastreak, in a press release.

I know something about that service because I used it myself as a way to spend a weekend with friends who lived on Martha’s Vineyard. But in order to do that, I had to travel out east at an early hour to catch the boat.

Still, I was willing to do that to avoid the legendary traffic jams that come with driving there, and as I bet people will do to visit Long Island. According to Baker, the vessels are equipped with high-backed seating, a full bar and Wi-Fi service.

Geoffrey Lynch, president of Hampton Jitney, commented for the press release that this innovative idea from these “three established and respected area transportation companies … will give people a relaxing way to enjoy the East End and Port Jefferson.”

The ferry will leave Manhattan’s East 35th Street dock and Highlands, N.J., traveling round trip.

Margot Garant, Port Jefferson’s mayor, said in the release, “We are extremely pleased to partner with the Sea Jitney to help bring people to Port Jefferson by our harbor. This powerful partnership has an extremely low impact on our infrastructure while introducing visitors to our beautiful, historic village.”

Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry general manager, Fred Hall, pronounced the Sea Jitney “a game changer for people who travel between Connecticut and the Hamptons. At two-and-one-half hours from Bridgeport to Southampton, it’s shorter than going through NYC and much less stressful.”

Here are some of the nitty-gritty details. One-way fares will be from $33 to $50, depending on the length of the ride; reservations and advance payment are required. The trip takes about two hours from the city to Port Jefferson and an hour, traffic permitting, from Port Jefferson to the Hamptons. For a complete schedule, go to www.seajitney.com.

Aside from my patriotic enthusiasm for the new alliance, I have a totally selfish reason to be so pleased with this new turn of events.

My children and grandchildren live to the west. Their summer visits may change for them from endurance on the highways to a pre-weekend pleasure as they stand at the rail and watch the bluffs of Long Island’s North Shore slip by. I’d better start stocking the refrigerator now.