By Joan Nickeson
It’s the first leg of vacation and consequently, the first sight of home.
The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company has transported passengers since 1883.
Most of us refer to the entire operation in port as, simply, “the ferry.” It is a fixture in the lives of Long Islanders and travel across the sound is almost second nature. There’s history here. At a recent member meeting of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, we learned a bit worth sharing from the company’s General Manager, Fred Hall.
The founder, first company president and shareholder of the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company was P.T. Barnum. The year 1983, however, marked the modern era when the company built and put into service the first Grand Republic. What seemed megalithic proportions, the ‘new ferry’ ushered in year-round ferry service.
The addition of the Park City in 1986 and the P.T. Barnum in 1999 rounded out a three-boat system. In 2003 the second ferry named Grand Republic joined the fleet and its namesake was sold.
Currently on weekends three ferries are usually in service for our convenience and enjoyment. Fred explains, “Our annual business generally transports 450 thousand vehicles, serving a million passengers.”
Destinations north include an exciting new amphitheater just two blocks from the Bridgeport ferry dock. The venue is within walking distance, Hall said.
“We tweaked operations to stick around and slightly delay our departure from Bridgeport. We wanted Long Island passengers attending shows to get on and get home. Hopefully we will do so again next summer,” he said. “We look for ways to work with our communities. It’s one of the reasons we join the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce and others. We appreciate the marketing efforts involved in connecting residents with commerce.”
This winter the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company expects to embark on construction of a new administration building. Stay up to date on tickets, tours, schedules and steamboat news, at 88844ferry.com, by phone at 888-443-3779 or email [email protected]
Joan Nickeson is an active member of the PJS/Terryville community and community liaison to the PJS/T Chamber of Commerce.