Southampton-based Hampton Jitney, which every summer ferries tens of thousands of beachgoers to the East End, plans a major expansion in Calverton, where it will open a bus terminal and maintenance facility this summer, a project that has cost $10 million.
The 41-year-old company, which is known for flight-attendant-like hosts and providing snacks on its motor coaches -- and for banning cellphone use -- plans to hire about 26 new drivers and mechanics to work at the new terminal.
The two-story, 46,000-square-foot facility at 253 Edwards Ave. sits on a nearly 15-acre parcel across the road from a solar farm. Construction was completed at the start of the year, said Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch.
The company was granted a tax abatement for the project by the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency, Lynch said.
"We realized quite some time ago that if we were going to continue to grow, we needed another facility," he said.
The company entered into contract to buy the vacant land -- formerly a dormant potato farm -- in 2007. Hampton Jitney spent several years working with town zoning and county health department officials to get the necessary approvals.
Parking at the company's headquarters in Southampton, which is also a bus terminal, has become scarce, he said. And the crowded parking there has made maneuvering the company's fleet of 57 motor coaches difficult. The new location was built with future expansion in mind, he said.
"Ten million dollars is not chump change to us," he said. "But we've been at the same facility in Southampton since 1982, so we're thinking about the next 30 years."
The Calverton facility, expected to be fully operational in June, features a garage with seven service bays, a drive-through bus wash area, diesel fueling stations, 52 motor coach parking spaces and roughly 200 customer and employee parking spots. A new passenger terminal and waiting area is still under construction, and is planned to house a small food court and retail shop.
In addition to Hampton Jitney's scheduled daily service between Manhattan and the East End, the company is also the official operator of the state's "I Love New York" bus. Started last fall, the tourism initiative encourages residents to venture outside New York City to visit attractions upstate and on Long Island.
The company, which employs about 200, is hosting an open house Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to recruit about 20 commercially licensed drivers and several bus maintenance workers.
"Ultimately, we can see about a hundred employees working out of this facility," Lynch said.