Strapped for cash? Tired of Lindy’s? Looking to make new friends? Hop on board the Hamptons Free Ride, an ad-supported shuttle service offering gratis transportation throughout the East End. We spent a recent Saturday kicking the tires.
BY DENA SILVER
12:14: We board a deserted car in East Hampton’s long-term lot bound for Main Beach. En route, a woman on a bicycle smiles and waves.
12:20: Upon arrival, we admire the views while awaiting our next Ride until we find ourselves in conversation with Sally Karpen, 59, a sales manager and Free Ride regular.
How did you discover the Free Ride?
I stay at a lovely bed-and-breakfast—which is very economical!—that knows all about the different shuttle services.
Do you have a favorite driver?
I have a few! I don’t know their names, but they all know me.
What’s your favorite freebie?
The glass of wine. And once, I was picked up by a guy who was much younger than me. [Sally points] Did you know that’s Paul McCartney’s house across the street? I saw him at Shea Stadium once. This weekend, I saw Nathan Lane. There are so many celebrities out here. By the way, do you know of any parties?
12:31: Google tells me it’s not actually Sir Paul McCartney’s house.
12:45: Still waiting. Decide to kill time by chatting with Nevada Tinsman, 26, a marketing manager.
Is this your first Free Ride?
Yeah. I have my car out here, even though it’s a pain in the butt to drive around.
Do you have a beach sticker?
My parents do.
1:05: Our chariot arrives! James Savarese, 26, is behind the wheel. So, James…
How do you like driving this bad boy?
It’s like driving your own car, except very slowly.
Have you had any interesting passengers today?
Maybe you’ll be the first.
Maybe! Do people treat The Free Ride like a cab?
They try to. People walk up and go, “20 Ocean Avenue,” and I’m like, “Nope, that’s not how it works.” But that’s just the New York crowd. They’re still learning.
What’s your least favorite part of the job?
Sometimes I get yelled at, which is pretty unacceptable. I should be heralded.
1:19: Back in the long-term lot, we spot Karen Goldberg and Beth Goldstein, both “in their forties,” disembarking from a vehicle. We approach carefully.
When was the first time you took The Free Ride?
Beth: Maybe two years ago. When did it start?
Beth: We probably took it then.
What were you doing that summer?
Karen: What do you mean “doing”? We always come out here for one or two weekends.
Seen any celebs?
Karen: Diane Keaton and Alec Baldwin. We saw her through a window, and we saw him playing with his baby.
1:26: Back at the beach, we bump into Kara Walker, 23, a teacher.
How was your first Free Ride?
It’s nice. You get a breeze, conversation, and the opportunity to meet people.
Are you on vacation?
Sort of. I still work during the week, but I’m kind of on vacation.
The Free Ride has a “selfie machine.” Thoughts?
I’m a fan of selfies in an ironic way, but I wouldn’t just take a photo of myself for the hell of it. I would to be funny, though.
1:38: We spot a group of young dudes: Andrew Miller, waiter; Noe Medina, orchard picker; Jesse Vanderwalker, Lowe’s employee; and Jason Reyes, nurse’s aid.
How did you find out about The Free Ride?
Andrew: We tried to pay for parking up at the beach a few days ago and it was full. They told us there were shuttles, so I dropped everybody off and I took the shuttle over.
What’s in the cooler?
Noe: Dude, he means water. Just water.
Have you been to Main Beach before?
Jason: I don’t think so. Is that where we’re at?
It is! What do you think of the Hamptons?
Jesse: It’s definitely interesting, something different than where we usually are.
Noe: There are a lot of wealthy people here.
2:17: After yet another trip to Main Beach, we meet film producer Mac Cappuccino, 26.
Is your last name really Cappuccino?
Yes. Next question.
Why are you hitching a Free Ride?
Because my siblings are stupid and were assuming you could park in the beach parking lot, even though I told them it was full. They refused to listen to me. I happened to be the one driving, so I had to park the car in town.
So you’re a little bitter?
Not really. It means I get to spend some quiet time without them.
Are there beers in your cooler?
That’s not my cooler, but if it were, it wouldn’t have beers in it. You’re not allowed to have beers in coolers on the beach, so I wouldn’t consider doing that, ever. Vodka’s another story.
What’s the biggest letdown about the Hamptons?
I always thought I’d get to go to an Eyes Wide Shut–type party out here.
Like, in the movie, when the rich people have a crazy sex party with masks on. Someone needs to point me in the right direction. I’ve even got the mask!
4:43: After topping off our tan, we snag a final lift. Lucky for us, Alex Esposito and James Mirras, co-founders of the Hamptons Free Ride, are on board to answer our questions.
Where in the Hamptons can Free Rides be found?
Alex: We’re in East Hampton, Southampton, Amagansett, and Montauk.
Which town has the wildest riders?
Alex: There’s a rowdier crowd in Montauk this time of year, for sure.
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while giving a Free Ride?
James: I had someone give me a shoulder massage, but that was more awesome than weird. A surprising number of people have also asked me to dinner.
Ever driven one of these babies on the beach?
Alex: No, this thing would get about four feet on the beach.
How’s your driving?
Alex: Amazing. Especially when I’m going under 30.