It takes a long time and a lot of persistence to become a household name, but that’s what the Hampton Jitney has become for residents of the Hamptons.
In the early 1900s, the term “jitney” was slang for both a nickel and a small public bus that charged that amount as a fare. Today, the company, which chiefly provides bus service between eastern Long Island and New York City, is known around these parts as simply “the Jitney.”
This year, the company, which was founded in 1974 by Jim Davidson, is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
Davidson’s vision was for an on-demand small shuttle bus that would travel the route back and forth along Montauk Highway between Southampton College and Amagansett, with a bike trailer for passengers.
Today’s Hampton Jitney company, with its full-size buses, has regularly scheduled trips throughout the day and night between New York City and the East End.
Brent and Missy Lynch bought the company from Davidson in 1988. The founder would pass away just a year later.
The company has been headquartered at the Omni on County Road 39 in Southampton since Davidson purchased the building in 1982.
Today’s more-than-familiar Jitney logo has its own history. The type was designed by art director Thom Speckenbach. The “wave” portion was added later and was originally sketched by artist Roy Lichtenstein on a napkin at lunch with Davidson.
To commemorate the Jitney’s nearly half a century of service, the Lynches, who still own the business, have recently created a social media campaign themed “Your Story Is Our Story,” asking riders to share a memorable and significant life moment from one of their rides via email to MyStory@hamptonjitney.com.
Many stories have already been shared, from couples meeting on the bus, to old friends, who have not seen one another in years, finding themselves seated next to one another, and many more.