Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry

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Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company
Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry logo.png
MV Park City, Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry.png
The MV Park City crossing Long Island Sound during the summer of 2016
WaterwayLong Island Sound
Transit typePassenger and automobile ferry
RouteBridgeport - Port Jefferson
Carriespassengers, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and buses of all sizes
OwnerMcAllister Towing and Transportation Co., Inc.
Began operation1883
System length18 miles
Travel time1 hour and 15 minutes, one way
No. of vessels3
No. of terminals2
Yearly ridership1.3 million (2017)
Yearly vehicles500,000 (2017)

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, better known as the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry is a ferry company that operates ferry service across Long Island Sound, between the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Long Island village of Port Jefferson, New York. Founded in 1883, it is one of the oldest operating ferry companies in America.


The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry operates between Port Jefferson, NY and Bridgeport, CT, and the service currently consists of three vessels and two terminals. Each vessel contains a dual-level car deck with capacity ranging from 90 to 120, often selling out on the popular summer weekends. Advance reservations can be made on the ferry company's website at The ferry company also carries larger vehicles like trucks and RVs.

Travel time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, with departures running every hour if 3 boats are in service (On weekends and throughout the summer) or every 90 minutes with 2 boats in service (On off-season weekdays).

The ferry company's Bridgeport terminal (Built in 1992) contains a ticket kiosk (Mainly for walk-on passengers) as well as a snack bar. The smaller Port Jefferson terminal does not have a snack bar, but does have a ticket kiosk.


The first ferry service began in 1872 and proved popular.[1] The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company was subsequently founded in 1883 by several backers, including entrepreneur P.T. Barnum,[2] and Port Jefferson seaman Charles E. Tooker. [3] The ferry company originally operated steamship service, but the acquisition of the Martha's Vineyard in 1968 ended steamship service. Since then, the company has been referred to in signage and conversation as the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry, but the term Steamboat Company is still used legally.

Since 1980, the President has been Brian McAllister who also owns one hundred percent of the company's shares.[4] The McAllisters purchased the company in 1960 from Joseph Tooker, Charles Tooker's grandson.[5]

All season transportation began in 1983 with the launching of the Grand Republic. Since then, the service imperative has shifted towards vehicles, although foot passengers remain a significant form of revenue. Ridership greatly increased during the 1980s and 90s from 150,000 passengers and 30,000 cars in 1984 to 800,000 passengers and 300,000 cars in 1999. The car-to-passenger ratio has also decreased over the years as more people began driving their vehicles onboard the ferry. The ratio was originally 1:5 in 1984, but has gone below 1:3 in recent years.

In 1999, with the launching of the PT Barnum, the ferry company began operating hourly, three-vessel service on weekends, holidays, and during the summer.[6] The ferry company still operates only two vessels on off-season weekdays, with departures every 90 minutes. The old Grand Republic was eventually replaced with a newer and larger Grand Republic in 2003.

On May 29, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a United States District Court for the District of Connecticut ruling that the Bridgeport Port Authority was unconstitutionally collecting taxes from the ferry company and passengers.[4] The port authority was ordered to pay the ferry company $1.1 million in reparations.[7]

In 2013, the ferry company unveiled plans to move its Bridgeport dock across Bridgeport Harbor to a new and larger terminal.[8] The city approved the plan in April 2014, and the new terminal is slated to open in 2020.[9]

In June 2016, likely intended to be used in conjunction with the aforementioned new terminal, the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry made significant changes to its ticketing system. Tickets were for many years purchased while on board the vessel (at a purser's booth) and turned in to a crew member before walking or driving off. However, in June 2016, the new ticket system was implemented, where tickets are purchased and turned in before boarding the vessel. Tickets are sold online, over the phone, and inside the terminals. The new tickets, which contain bar codes, are scanned prior to boarding, and can even be displayed over a cell phone or mobile device.[10]

As of 2017, the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry carries approximately 1.3 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles annually.


The distance between the two ports is approximately 18 miles (29 km). The average crossing is one hour and fifteen minutes in duration.


41°10′21″N 73°10′55″W / 41.17250°N 73.18194°W / 41.17250; -73.18194

The ferry is located at 330 Water Street on the western bank of Bridgeport Harbor. It is within walking distance of the Arena at Harbor Yard, the Ballpark at Harbor Yard, the Barnum Museum, the Metro-North station, the main GBTA Bus Station, the Klein Memorial Auditorium, and most of downtown. In 2004 a new car loading ramp was installed featuring AASHTO HS-20 truck capacity.[11] The aforementioned proposed new terminal will be located on Seaview Avenue at the former site of Turbana Corporation.

Port Jefferson[edit]

40°56′46″N 73°3′44″W / 40.94611°N 73.06222°W / 40.94611; -73.06222

The ferry is located at 102 West Broadway at the head of the harbor. A large gold leaf statue of an eagle was erected on the corner of East Broadway and NY 25A in 2002, replacing one of Thomas Jefferson. Directly across from the dock, it is a monument for victims of 9/11.[12] The ferry is approximately one mile north of the Port Jefferson LIRR station.[13]

Current fleet[edit]

There are currently three vessels in service between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson [2][14] Each vessel is configured similarly, with a second level containing a small deck near the back, a large passenger cabin in the middle, with restrooms, seating and a snack bar, and a cocktail lounge (For passengers 21 and over) near the front. A third level contains more outdoor seating, as well as the bridge and helm elevated above the third deck. All three vessels have elevators from the car deck to the second and third levels, located near the back of each vessel. Each vessel is capable of traveling at speeds of 16 knots (18 mph)

MV Park City[edit]

The MV Park City was built by Offshore Shipbuilding in Palatka, FL in 1986 at a cost of $5 million, originally to supplement the old Grand Republic. It is 280 feet (85 m) long and 47 feet (14 m) wide with capacity for 90 cars. It is the second vessel in the company's history to use the name Park City. The first one (SS Park City) was operated by the same company from 1898 to 1950.

The Park City has received several midlife upgrades in recent years to keep it in line with the two newer vessels. In 2009, its engines were replaced with two brand-new Tier II Caterpillars, and in 2012, its cabin was renovated with new seating, flooring, and ceilings, as well as a new elevator for handicapped passengers.[15]

MV P.T. Barnum[edit]

The MV PT Barnum was built in 1999 by Eastern Marine Shipbuilding in Panama City, FL at a cost of $12 million. It is 300 feet (91 m) long and 52 feet (16 m) wide, and is named after the ferry company's founder. The PT Barnum can carry 120 cars, and was constructed at a cost of $12 million.

MV Grand Republic[edit]

The MV Grand Republic was built in 2003, also by Eastern Marine Shipbuilding in Panama City, FL. It is the PT Barnum's sister ship, and being built to identical specifications, it is also 300 feet (91 m) long and 52 feet (16 m) wide.

Former fleet[edit]

  • Grand Republic The name Grand Republic was previously used for an older and slightly smaller vessel built in 1983. It was built in commemoration of the ferry company's centennial, by Offshore Shipbuilding in Palatka, FL, who would also build the MV Park City 3 years later (The two boats were built to similar but not identical specifications). The slightly smaller Grand Republic had the same length as the Park City, but it was only 44 feet (13 m) wide. This reduced width made it difficult to load and unload cars, which would later prove to be a problem for the ferry company, who only has 15 minutes to unload and reload its vessels. After several attempts to sell the vessel to a ferry company based in a different market, old Grand Republic was sold to competitor Cross Sound Ferry in March 2003. Cross Sound Ferry renamed it the Mary Ellen and placed it back in service on their route between New London, Connecticut and Orient, New York in June, where it remains today.
  • SS Martha's Vineyard - Before the (1983) Grand Republic, this steel hulled diesel-powered ship ran seasonally (no winter service) with six round trips a day from 1968. It was built in Bath, Maine in 1923, and was previously used by the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Steamship Authority. It was the first vessel in the company's history that was capable of carrying automobiles, having capacity for 30. It was sold in 1986 to Massachusetts Bay Lines following the launch of the MV Park City. Massachusetts Bay Lines intended to convert her into a dinner cruise ship, but never did, and the Martha's Vineyard was ultimately scrapped in 1990.[16]
  • Catskill - The Catskill was built in 1924 to replace the Nonowantuc, and was the first steel-hulled vessel in the company's history. It was named after the Catskill mountains in upstate New York. It was sold 1968 after the Martha's Vineyard was bought. [17]
  • Park City - A previous Park City served from 1898 through 1951. Its name was derived from the city of Bridgeport's nickname. Built for $50,000, 28 feet (8.5 m) wide/150 feet (46 m) long 898 gross tons, 800 horsepower, 15 knots. Coal (hard)powered.[18]
  • Nonowantuc - The first vessel in the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry's history, serving from 1883 to 1924. It was slightly smaller than the 1898 Park City, but also featured masts if the boilers failed. [18]



  1. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  2. ^ a b Cavanaugh, Jack (August 1, 1999). "The View From/Bridgeport; With Ridership Rising, Ferry Gets a New Ship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  3. ^ "Crossing the Sound, the ferry's history in photographs". 2007-02-23. Archived from the original on 2017-08-02. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  4. ^ a b "Docket No. 08-3886-cv. - BRIDGEPORT AND PORT JEFFERSON STEAMBOAT COMPANY v. BRIDGEPORT PORT AUTHORITY - US 2nd Circuit". Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  5. ^ Bridgeport on the Sound - Google Books. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  6. ^ Company, The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat. "The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company > About Us > A Look at the Fleet". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Ferry Company Awarded Fees In Court Fight–Now What?". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  8. ^ "City warming up to idea Port Jeff ferry move". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Ferry to move across Bridgeport Harbor". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  10. ^ Company, The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat. "Dockside Ticketing at the Ferry!". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Microsoft Word - Newsletter Page 1 - 0404.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-02.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Fischler, Marcelle S. (June 30, 2002). "Long Island Journal; Tug of War Over a Monument". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  13. ^ [1] Archived July 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Ferries Built in the U.S. since WWII". 2009-10-06. Archived from the original on 2012-11-17. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  15. ^ "Ferry gets refitted with new elevator, amenities". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Final Chapter: The Islander and Other Bygone Ferries". 1 August 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  17. ^ A. Kisselgof. "Final chapter: The Islander and other bygone ferries". US-MA: Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  18. ^ a b Long Island Genealogy. "The legendary Park City of The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company". Retrieved 2011-03-02.

External links[edit]