Sara Dolber had been sitting in her car for over 10 minutes on November 26, her concentration alternating between the parking lot and the clock. It was 4 p.m. and she was already late for work at Starbucks.
“I couldn’t even find a parking spot. I was sitting literally in the back just waiting,” said Ms. Dolber, of East Moriches.
Acknowledging congestion problems at a parking lot used by customers and employees of Capital One Bank and Starbucks, the Hampton Jitney, which shares the lot, has canceled its 8:55 a.m. Montauk Line stop in Manorville, located on County Road 111.
“The lot was becoming so full with our passengers parking there that the employees at the Capital One Bank could not park themselves,” Jitney spokeswoman Jennifer Friebely said. The cancellation came amid complaints from the bank that there were no parking spaces available for customers and employees because bus commuters were using them all.
But tempers flared when Jitney customers, while trying to make reservations two weeks ago, realized that the bus company was going to cancel the 7:55 a.m. stop in Manorville. The Jitney backed down and moved to instead cancel the 8:55 a.m. stop after outcry from passengers forced it to reconsider.
“This has just been such a sticky issue. We hate to do this, but we have to be good neighbors,” Ms. Friebely said.
The Montauk Line bus makes 14 stops per day in the Manorville parking lot, located on County Road 111. The cancellation of the single stop went into effect on Thanksgiving Day. The Jitney has used the parking lot as a hub for its Montauk Line for more than 15 years.
Ms. Friebely said commuters who used the 8:55 a.m. bus can catch the 8:40 a.m. Westhampton Line bus at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. “We tried to do something that caused minimal problems for our passengers,” she said.
At least 10 angry passengers signed a petition arguing against canceling the 7:55 a.m. Montauk Line stop, which is popular with business commuters working in Manhattan. It was forwarded in an e-mail to management at Hampton Jitney and the Manorville branch of Capital One Bank on November 25.
Manorville Capital One Bank employees declined to comment and Capital One Bank District Manager Walter Krupski did not return calls for comment.
Buses can carry as many as 56 passengers, and there are 60 parking spaces in the parking lot shared with Capital One Bank and Starbucks. Bus passengers who park in the lot must display a white ticket in their front windshield to show they have reason to park there. Overnight parking is not allowed.
The bus is allowed to use the parking lot free of charge and can be asked by the bank to leave at any time, Ms. Friebely said.
“We were in jeopardy of losing that spot,” Ms. Friebely said. “They could have said, ‘Hampton Jitney, we don’t want you there.’”
Commuter Stacy Yakaboski who has ridden the 7:55 a.m. bus into Manhattan for more than eight years said she got wind of the possible cancellation about two weeks ago and petitioned the bus company. Ms. Yakaboski was pleased the 7:55 a.m. was preserved, but voiced concern that more service reductions were on the horizon.
“I think it is becoming more and more popular, so I don’t think it’s a long-term solution, unfortunately,” said Ms. Yakaboski, an attorney from Baiting Hollow.
Ms. Yakaboski estimated an average of 10 passengers board the 7:55 a.m. bus at the Manorville stop.
But Ms. Yakaboski said car poolers also use the parking lot as a rendezvous point before leaving together in a single car or truck. She said these people, possibly more than the Jitney riders, are responsible for clogging up the parking lot.
“Car pooling certainly adds to the parking spots that are being taken up,” Ms. Yakaboski said.
A copy of the petition suggests that the Jitney service and bank agree on setting aside bank-only parking spaces. It also recommends a “Jitney parking lottery” in which people win passes to park in the Manorville lot. “Anyone without a pass should not be permitted to park there,” the petition states.
A Jitney commuter who commutes into Manhattan and declined to give her name said she was also concerned that commuters on the Manorville Line will see more cancellations at the Manorville stop.
“Neither side has come up with a solution,” the commuter said. “In the long run, I don’t think this will solve the issue.”