My friend Karen met her husband on Hampton Jitney. She was on her way home to Southampton when she eyed — or, more honestly, rolled her eyes at — a guy speaking too loudly on his phone. Five minutes later, he ended his call, turned to the annoyed brunette beside him and apologized. Six years and two wedding anniversaries have passed since then; I think it’s safe to say that all has been forgiven.
Hampton Jitney, which is currently celebrating its 45th year of service, is a veritable magnet for these types of stories. In fact, so prevalent are these tales that the Jitney launched its big anniversary season this past Valentine’s Day by sharing one just like it. In this story, two passengers, Billy and Dawn, meet on the Jitney and immediately start dating. Years later, their courtship culminates when Billy charters a Jitney to propose to Dawn. We trust we don’t need to employ a #spoileralert to tell you how the story ends: with a wedding and 3 beautiful children.
Of course, not all of the Jitney’s stories are romantic. Many longtime passengers will regale you with tales of celebrity encounters; others still will tell you about that time they, from across the aisle, met their future boss. Everyone, it seems, has a Hampton Jitney story — and the Hampton Jitney team wants to hear them all.
This is why, in celebration of its 45th anniversary, Hampton Jitney is asking its employees, passengers and the community at large to submit their own stories by emailing email@example.com. The Jitney will then choose 10 stories to feature in their summer campaign, which will include print, television, social media and radio promotions, as well as motorcoach wraps.
“Forty-five years is a tremendous milestone and a tribute to our employees, customers, and partners. We are proud to be one of the icons of the East End and look forward to another 45 years,” says Hampton Jitney vice-president Andrew Lynch. “My favorite story is one that I hear over and over from regular riders whom I talk with: that they are truly thankful for the service existing and that they wouldn’t know what they would do without it.”
A lot has changed since the Jitney launched in 1974. Back then, all Hampton Jitney had was a single van and a dream: to provide the finest personalized transportation service between eastern Long Island and New York City. Forty-five years later, it is safe to say the Jitney has succeeded, now operating an entire fleet of luxury motorcoaches — thanks, in no small part, to the company’s blemishless reliability and early adoption of technology.
“Back in the 1990s, we set up a rudimentary online reservations system that would actually take the online information and send a fax to our reservations office for manual entry into our system,” says Lynch. “Our CTO remembers that he wasn’t convinced this ‘internet thing’ was going to last. One day, he came in after a weekend and saw a reservationist struggling to input a huge stack of faxes that had come in over the weekend. That was when he knew it was for real. Today, nearly 70% of our reservations are made online.”
Other company milestones include its decision to begin operating on the North Fork of Long Island in 2006, and the opening of its new 50,000 square foot facility in Calverton in 2015.
So what’s next? A celebration, for starters.
All summer, the Jitney will be hosting giveaways to celebrate their 45th anniversary both onboard the Jitney itself and on social media. They will also launch a new exclusive membership offer this June, which will unlock even more rewards as well as special offers from partners both in New York City and on the East End.
Additionally, “there will be many surprises throughout the year,” says Lynch. “We don’t want to give them all away just yet.”
When it comes to the Jitney’s next chapter, however, Lynch is less shy.
“We will continue to focus on convenience,” he says. “We will adopt new technology and get more efficient, but the goal is to give people that reassuring feeling that when they use our service, they can sit back and don’t have to worry.”
This “reassuring feeling” has always been at the heart of Hampton Jitney’s story. It is no wonder, then, that — free from the drama of the long road between the city and the Hamptons — Jitney passengers use the comfortable, three-hour ride to write stories of their own.
For more on Hampton Jitney, please visit the transportation service’s website.