Trains, planes, automobiles - and now, Hampton Voyager.
The newest mode of transportation for travelers between the South Fork and Manhattan will kick off its service tomorrow with five trips each way in a novel van-like vehicle for eight passengers willing to pay $65 one way, $95 for a same-day round trip.
Why pay six times more than the train, over three times more than the Hampton Jitney, (though still a third less than a limousine)?
Because, according to Bill Rosson of Bridgehampton and New York, the company's founder, Hampton Voyager is "civilized."
The service, he said, is designed for those seeking a fully equipped but "stress-free" travel environment. The $200,000 vehicle, built by Mauck Specialty Vehicles of Columbus, Ohio, has eight leather "captain's" seats with six-way power adjustments, headrests, drink-holders, pull-out tables, and halogen reading lights.
Equipped with receptacles for laptop computers, it also carries courtesy cellular phones and a fax/copier machine.
On board too is a satellite dish enabling riders to tune into CNN, CNBC, or other programming on two on-board television sets. Other distractions, as the minibus barrels down the Long Island Expressway, include an on-board music station and a selection of newspapers and magazines.
Only 50 such vehicles have ever been produced, said Mr. Rosson. Two of them, the first to enter scheduled transport service, will be used here.
Hungry? Thirsty? Kathleen's Cookies and Robert's Gourmet Foods (all-natural chips), chilled Starbucks Frappuchino, Evian water, Orangina, orange juice, and standard colas all will be in full supply. There are no plans to serve beer or hard liquor as yet; the company is still trying to determine state regulations governing alcohol.
Pets - meaning cats and "lap dogs" - will be welcome, for no extra charge, though probably only one per trip. Mr. Rosson said he had turned down owners of a pit bull, a black Lab, and a golden retriever.
Starts And Stops
Pickups will be in East Hampton (across from the Palm), Wainscott (in front of Pizzeria), Bridgehampton (across from the Community House), Water Mill (Hampton Coffee parking lot), and Southampton (Long Island Rail Road station).
Passengers can disembark on Third Avenue anywhere between 36th and 79th Streets, and, on three trips a week, on the West Side anywhere on Columbus Avenue between 66th and 81st Streets.
Manhattan pickups on the West Side are at 80th and 66th Streets at Columbus Avenue; on the East Side, on Lexington Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets, and on 52nd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues.
Advertisements have appeared in The Star for several weeks announcing the service, which Mr. Rosson said was booked solid for its first day of operation.
Five people have already booked 40 trips apiece, he said.
A special offer, $20 per ride for the first 10 days of operation, will allow the company to "work out the kinks," Mr. Rosson said. After that, full fees will be in force until after the season, when discounts may become available.
Reservations, which can be charged to a major credit card, may be made through Hampton Voyager's toll-free number, 1-800-496-5630.