Those who took advantage of a free shuttle around East Hampton Village last summer can now look forward to the same eco-friendly service in Montauk come Memorial Day weekend.
, which just launched with three electric Chrysler GEM cars in 2011, may also end up tooling around Amagansett this summer. Alex Esposito, who grew up in Springs, said he and his partner James Mirras, who grew up in Montauk, are still working out the details of bringing the transportation alternative to the third hamlet.
So far, they have plans for eight — four in the village and four in Montauk. They run nine hours a day (roughly 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), 7 days a week. Each run for more than two hours or 40 miles before they need a charge.
The saw as many as 300 riders on a busy weekend, and Esposito estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 used the shuttle service from Memorial Day weekend to the end of September.
In Montauk, the route will be around the immediate village with stops at the to Main Street, possibly to , then back up by the , down to the beach and then back up behind the . Esposito hopes to pick up those at the parking lot by Kirk Park Beach who want to go to the beach by the Atlantic Terrace, where parking has been a problem.
Hamptons Free Ride will continue its route in the village, starting at the large parking lot south of the to the train station, to the Reutershan's lot, to the Hampton Jitney stops, and then and back.
If they decide to launch the service in Amagansett this summer, they will loop the route from to , stopping at the and bus stop.
The service is free and makes money from its advertisers. Esposito said Zappos.com will sponsor two cars and Heineken will sponsor another in Montauk. In East Hampton, cars will advertise , and East End Tick Control.
Originally, , but scaled back. "We didn't want to bite off more than we could chew," Esposito said.
Larry Cantwell, the village administrator, said the service was a success in the village. "The more people who learned it was available, the more people who used it," Cantwell said, adding that the village was pleased with how it worked. The village provided an electrical outlet to Hampons Free Ride in the long-term so that the vehicles could be charged.
In November, Esposito and Mirras went to the Town of East Hampton to gauge support, as well as any requirements. With the support of the majority of the board, they decided to move forward and launch the service in Montauk on May 26.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he wants to encourage the free shuttle service. "Anytime that you can get people in Montauk, which is fairly congested already, from one point to another, without multiple vehicles, is a great relief to Montauk.
This summer, they also plan on expanding the purpose a bit. "We want to transform it into an experience, not just being a free ride to the beach," Esposito said. They want to be "a mini-Groupon provider," offering vouchers for "Buy 1, Get 1 margarita free" at the or discounts at . Also, they are working with Vanity Fair to provide gift bags to riders on select weekends.
Esposito said they may also add a fifth in the village, particularly if will be closed this summer due to erosion issues. "There will be absolutely no parking at Main Beach," Esposito said of the need for the shuttle service to and from the beach.