Since the 1980s, Seastreak has operated commuter ferries between Highlands, NJ and Manhattan, providing a link between Monmouth County and the city that is faster than bus, train, or car.
Sea Jitney is a new service operated by Hampton Jitney, a bus company that carries passengers between New York City and the resort towns on the East End of Long Island, The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, and Seastreak.
The service will operate on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from May 22 to September 9, catering mainly to vacation/weekend getaway traffic.
The service will provide a trip from New Jersey to Long Island that will avoid traffic through New York City. Traffic is often highly congested with predictable delays outbound on Friday afternoon and inbound on Sunday afternoon.
Summer weekend traffic from New York to the Hamptons is a highly competitive market. Since Hampton Jitneys often get stuck in traffic, travellers also flock to the Long Island Railroad, whose premier Cannonball express train is often standing room only. Reserved seats sell out months ahead of time, at more than $40 a pop.
For passengers coming from New York, the value proposition of Sea Jitney is questionable. The schedule shows travel times of 3.5 hours from Midtown to Southampton, for a fare of $50. The LIRR takes 2.5 hours and a peak one-way ticket costs $28.25.
However, travelers from Central New Jersey to Long Island may find the service more useful. The fare for the ferry alone between Highlands and Port Jefferson is $30 and lasts 3 hours. The same trip by train would take slightly longer and cost slightly more.
Sea Jitney is less of a regional transit connection and more of a luxury getaway service. It provides an escape from traffic and crowded trains, but does not necessarily offer a faster trip. But it does provide a direct New Jersey to Long Island connection, which is something that most likely has never been attempted before.
Alternatively, passengers may wish to consider a private jet service between New York and the Hamptons that started last weekend. Fares start at $499.