Ferry between Sag Harbor and NYC

June 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

James Barker snuck into the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee meeting 15 minutes late on Monday afternoon, having underestimated the amount of traffic he would battle driving from Manhattan to the East End. That very experience is one Barker would like to relieve for New York City commuters looking for a way to get to the East End each summer weekend without sitting for hours on the Sunrise Highway.

Barker’s company, SeaStreak, has proposed providing weekly ferry service to Sag Harbor from Manhattan, departing the city from Wall Street and midtown on Friday at 5 p.m. and arriving at Long Wharf at 7:30 p.m. The passenger-only ferry would depart Sag Harbor on Sunday at 5 p.m. While Barker said his company initially was seeking approval to run one ferry a week, he noted if demand was there they would seek to add additional ferries to the line.

“We did a survey of our customers — about 5,000 people — asking where they would like to travel in the summertime,” said Barker. “We found out they would like to come here, so we thought we would see if you were open to that idea.”

SeaStreak proposed a trial run of the ferry service on Friday, July 10, and said they would limit the number of passengers on the ferry to 300. No cars would travel on the ship. The cost for a round trip ticket would be $125 dollars, offering passengers a full service cash bar, restrooms and three decks, in addition to the pleasure of not sitting on Route 27 in weekend traffic that stretches for miles.

The company already offers passenger ferry services from New Jersey to New York, as well as high-speed catamaran services to central Jersey. It also specializes in special events, including a July Fourth service to Martha’s Vineyard that has been well-received, said Barker, by its clients.

“The way the economy is,” noted Barker. “People are looking for more local ventures.”

Harbor committee chairman Bruce Tait agreed the business model would be more than successful, but said he thought residents in the village may struggle with the idea of a passenger ferry coming to Sag Harbor.

“This is a very high mountain to climb to get this boat into Sag Harbor,” said Tait. “There has been a strong pushback from ferries coming into Sag Harbor.”

In 1996, a high speed ferry company, New York Fast Ferry, proposed a weekly ferry service from Manhattan to Sag Harbor. As Tait recalled, there was concern in the village that the only spot available for passengers to disembark would be Long Wharf and the village was unsure it would have the upland services necessary to deal with the traffic and lodging needed for some 300 people.

“On top of that, the village code has made ferry service a non-permitted use,” said Tait.

With Dr. Tom Halton and Jeff Peters absent from Monday’s meeting, Tait said he would wait to officially weigh in on the concept until the July 13 meeting, but was skeptical the proposal would find support among village residents.

“I do think it would be successful,” Tait said. “I do think your business model would work, I just don’t think Sag Harbor would agree to that.”
 Sag Harbor Express

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Entry filed under: Get Wet, Public Waterfront, Region. Tags: , , .

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