Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson Jitney"

Port Jefferson Jitney

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Stony Brook’s SAC bus loop is one of the stops of the SBU to Port Jeff shuttle. Village officials say the cost of the project has put it in jeopardy after the end of the spring semester. Photo from Google maps

The jitney service between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook University is back on the menu for the spring and fall semesters, this time with extra funding from the Port Jeff Business Improvement District and a larger price tag.

The Port Jefferson, Stony Brook University Shuttle before the service was contracted out to Suffolk Transportation Inc.. Photo from Kevin Wood

The new service extends the service for an additional two weeks, from 10 to 12, and will run until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The service also changes one of the pickups at Stony Brook University from the Chemistry Loop to the Hilton Garden Inn.

The BID is putting up $10,000 of its funds for the program, leaving Port Jefferson with just under $20,000 of the bill.

“We are proud to partner with the village in bringing the shuttle service back to our Business District,” said Roger Rutherford, BID president, in an online release.

At the Feb. 18 village board meeting, parking administrator Kevin Wood was seeking $24,608 in funds, per semester, to continue the PJ/SBU Shuttle for the next spring and fall semesters. The program is paid through parking meter funds.

However, Michelle Ferrante, senior account clerk, pointed out that any contract over $20,000 the village signs onto must go out to BID. This wouldn’t be a problem if the village were using its own jitney bus, however, the board voted last year to contract out to Bay Shore-based Suffolk Transportation Service, mainly due to the previous bus lack of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and the overall failing quality of the previous vehicle. 

The village has also lacked other intervillage public transit options since the BID-run program with Qwik Ride ended. Officials said those small cars had not done the job they needed them to do, rarely being there for people who requested them, and drivers were taking requests from people outside the village to make tips. 

At the meeting, questions were raised whether the Suffolk Transportation was a sole source provider, and if it provides transportation services for Suffolk County.

According to its website, the company operates with Suffolk County public transit under the name Suffolk Bus Corp. The company also operates the paratransit buses, known as Suffolk County Accessible Transit, which ferry disabled people on select routes across the county.

The village board agreed to approve the funds for this spring semester if Wood could keep the budget for the jitney service under $20,000, which meant cutting the number of weeks and hours it ran for.

The program will come under review again come the start of the fall semester.

Wood said the university would not currently consider helping to pay for the program, but said he has plans for the future, including possibly surveying riders and asking where they shopped or dined.

“The program will gain popularity and ridership and, therefore, success,” he said. “We may test run a pay by cellphone so that students also have a contribution to this wonderful service. We would expect rates to be well below any alternative mobility.

Although officials have praised the program for bringing in more people sans cars into the village, Garant said she has questioned the cost of the program, especially since Port Jeff started to contract with an outside company. She said adding extra days and weeks to the program has only exacerbated those costs, and she doubts either the BID or university will either be able or willing to pick up the majority of the tab long term.

“Honestly, the program is in jeopardy in the fall,” she said.” The mayor added she has asked Wood to look into different transit companies or into the village purchasing its own two new jitney buses.  

The new schedule is Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bus stops at Student Activities Center Loop, Hilton Garden Inn, Chapin Apartments, Wild by Nature Market parking lot, Port Jefferson village on Arden Street and Port Jeff train station.

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The Port Jefferson, Stony Brook University Shuttle was cancelled this March, though the village hopes to start it up again next year. Photo from Kevin Wood

Port Jefferson village, in starting up its connection with Stony Brook University for transit into the village, has hired on another bus to man the original route in the meantime.

The village approved an agreement with Suffolk Transportation Inc. at its Sept. 3 meeting to act as village jitney for $75 an hour for the remaining months of the university’s Fall semester.

Mayor Margot Garant said this was to help hold their obligation to the University and still run its regular bus route. The new bus itself is colored white instead of red, but it’s expected to be similar in size and number of seats to the current jitney bus, according to Parking and Mobility Administrator Kevin Wood.

Wood said this is in the interim while they continue to look into an additional Jitney bus. He added he is also considering reducing the number of hours of the regular jitney route due to low ridership. 

In 2018, the bus saw ridership as low as 27 in a week last September. Most jitney ridership occurs on event days, such as the Mini Makers Faire and the Dragon Boat Festival, which last year saw a ridership that week of 164. In 2018, the jitney saw an average of around 70 riders a week. 

The first two-and-a-half spring pilot for the PJ/SBU transit showed 3,200 riders. Wood has said he expects more ridership in this term. The spring pilot cost the village about $14,000, Wood said.

“This is definitely bringing people into shop, that’s what it does,” he said.

Daily schedules will remain the same, though the last pickup will be at 10 p.m. from SBU. The schedule is anticipated to be Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The loop starts at Port Jefferson train station along Main Street in what’s known as Upper Port, before heading into Arden Plaza in the village, continuing up West Broadway down Route 25A, stopping at Stop & Shop in East Setauket. Once on the Stony Brook campus, it will make stops at the main circle loop, West Campus and the Chapin Apartments before coming back down Route 25A and ending at Port Jeff train station. 

The PJ/SBU transit bus is open to all Stony Brook students as well as Port Jeff residents and visitors.

The Port Jefferson, Stony Brook University Shuttle was cancelled this March, though the village hopes to start it up again next year. Photo from Kevin Wood

After calling the first trial run a success, The Village of Port Jefferson will again be using its jitney bus for transport between the village and Stony Brook University when classes begin again Sept. 5.

Village Parking and Mobility Administrator Kevin Wood said people can expect the same service as last season, which started as a pilot program on March 7. The new season will last until at least Nov. 10, though depending on ridership it could run longer.

Daily schedules will remain the same, though the last pickup will be at 10 p.m. from SBU. The schedule is anticipated to be Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The original pilot program cost the village around approximately $13,000, with the university picking up promotional costs.

Wood said in an email the spring season showed 3,200 riders in the two-and-a-half-month spring pilot, but he expects more riders for this term. He also said the village is looking at supplying a second shuttle.

The loop starts at Port Jefferson train station along Main Street in what’s known as Upper Port, before heading into Arden Plaza in the village, continuing up West Broadway down Route 25A, stopping at Stop & Shop in East Setauket. Once on the Stony Brook campus, it will make stops at the main circle loop, West Campus and the Chapin Apartments before coming back down Route 25A and ending at Port Jeff train station. 

The jitney ride is free for Stony Brook University students and faculty.