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East End ferry trial inches forward

Sag Harbor's village board approved a new passenger ferry service to Greenport on a 100-day trial basis at its meeting Tuesday night, leaving just one more hurdle to clear before the first passengers can board.

That last hurdle is a formal approval of the rates by the Suffolk County Legislature. It is scheduled to vote next week on the ferry license and rate structure, which was approved Tuesday by its Public Works committee.

The 53-seat ferry would be the only direct public transportation link between the north and south forks except for a bus service, which makes a long two and a half- hour loop from Orient Point to East Hampton.

Greenport Village has approved the ferry, but Sag Harbor had to pass a special resolution because it banned ferries more than a decade ago when the Cross-Sound Ferry company wanted to bring its auto ferry service from New London directly to the south fork.

The proposed new ferry service drew general support from both villages, but there were concerns about loss of parking and the impact on traffic. Mayor Brian Gilbride said there were questions "but we won't know until we try it."

But passengers will not park near the docks at either village. Instead, they will be able to park at public school lots, which will be mostly empty over the summer, and take a shuttle bus to the ferry. It will be operated by the Hampton Jitney, which will be running the new ferry service along with Response Marine, of Mattituck.

Plans call for the new ferry to make seven round-trips a day Mondays to Thursdays, and eight round-trips on the weekend. The cost will be $11 one-way and $20 round-trip.

A one-way trip should take about 40 minutes, depending on weather, and passengers will be able to reserve tickets through the Hampton Jitney office.

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