What is a Jitney?

The Jitney, a legendary form of transportation said to be available in The Hamptons, is explained here by Nina Katchadourian. Headphones at respectable workplaces, if you please. [via The Awl]


  1. C’mon, Rob, you’re in Pittsburgh; you know perfectly well that a jitney is an unlicensed, low-rent taxicab.

  2. We had a hoopty jitney service in San Francisco up until a few years ago: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cerambycidae/484656940/

    1. The blue Jitney buses are still on the streets.  I see one nearly every morning (depending upon my timing) on 3rd Street by Market. 

      1. Huh — SF Jitney wiki page was updated a year ago: http://www.transitunlimited.org/Jitney

  3. When I worked at a inner-city grocery store we had a group of jitney drivers (not employed by the store, but generally tolerated by the management) who walked at the end of the checkouts and would offer rides home for a set price plus a certain amount extra for each bag you had.  If you had more then a few bags of groceries, taking them on the bus/subway was really not feasible, and many people who were on assistance got a whole month’s worth of food-stamps at once and tended to use most of it right away so they provided a much needed service, and were trusted as neighborhood guys.  If anyone was foolish enough to call a licensed cabby , and if that cabby were foolish enough to actually show up on their turf….it was likely to turn nasty.  Still, I miss the rides home from my favorite jitney driver, Fletcher in his 70’s Cadillac with the gold leather upholstery.  

    1. “bus which carries passengers for a fare,” 1914, Amer.Eng., from gitney, St. Louis slang for “a nickel” (1903), perhaps because the buses’ fare was a nickel, the coin name perhaps from Fr. jeton “coin-sized metal disk, slug, counter,” from O.Fr. jeter “to calculate,” lit. “to throw”

  4. First struck by what seemed to be a dated parody of folky singers, ala Joni Mitchell circa 1970; stuck with it ’cause she’s cute (sue me); cracked up at the metal insertions.
    Checked out her page, and was delighted to find an artist I had not heard of; witty and thoughtful work, with humor.
    Thanks for the tip BB.

    1. WalMart > Hamptons by a long shot.  In one of them you at least get what you pay for and I know which I’d go back to first.

      Great campground out there though but it’s much closer to Montauk than the Hamptons.

    2. Like Walmart, the Hamptons is another place I have yet to step foot in.

      Am I the only one who finds it funny that a post about how insufferable the idle rich are ends with a dig at the working class? 

      1. Let’s all dial back the snark meter and be tolerant of young Brooklyn Christine or Christopher.

        By “Code For” I read “a surface thin identity”. 

  5. I have taken it a few times to visit a Rich Friend who Has a Place out there.  I must say, it is the most lily-white (except for the staff) insufferably yuppie mode of transportation that I have ever been on.  Yes, it’s very convenient vs. the giant, irregular PITA that westbound trains from LI to NYC are.  However, a friend an I once got yelled at LOUDLY by some rich jackass because my friend laughed loud ONCE during a point of quiet conversation. 
    And this asshole didn’t just ask us to keep our voices down.  He stood up and said “We all of us here…(pointed around at seats near him) think that you’re LAUGHING TOO LOUD and should STOP.”
    My friend, who had abuse issues, almost burst into tears.  At this point, the bus, which had been a-hum with quiet conversation, went silent.  After a stunned pause, I asked Mr. Asshole if he always needed a consensus vote before being rude, or only when he was bullying two middle-aged chicks on a luxury bus.  He looked around while all of his “co-voters” turned away, avoiding eye contact with either him or us.
    The bus settled back into its hum and I quietly tried to cheer up my now rather traumatized friend.  That douchebag killed the weekend for her.  In the meantime, people who do stupider verboten stuff like bring smelly food on (linguine and clams?  Really?  On a fucking FIVE HOUR BUS RIDE)?, bring their lapdogs on (file under “noise” and “smell”) and so on never have their rich season-ticket-holder asses scolded.

    1. I’m sorry – where does this bus go that takes 5 hours? It takes no more than 3 hours to go from Manhattan all the way to Montauk point (which I believe is the last stop since the OCEAN starts after that). Now I think you’re just making sh*t up.

      1. (which I believe is the last stop since the OCEAN starts after that)

        The ocean starts after Montauk? Wow I always wondered where all that water that fills the globe came from and now I know!

      2. Um, Sunday PM back to NYC on a bad traffic weekend from Orient Point.  Took forever.  It sucked.

        RE blue-collar elements of Jitney riders–OK you may be right, but that’s not the crowd I saw.

        RE landowners not taking the jitney but taking limos–um, nope, used to work with a guy who owned a house in Bridgehampton (lived in NYC in a place his family owned forever most of the time).  And he swore that the jitney was much easier than dealing with traffic, gas, tolls, etc. 

  6. But Jonathan…

    You’re crazy for taking the jitney

    Well, I’m crazy, so what’s the – oh never mind.

  7. I can’t speak for bklynchris’ intent, but I don’t understand why it must be a dig at the working class to say you won’t enter a Walmart.If I don’t like the political and financial deck-stacking of the idle rich, why is it wrong for me to avoid contributing to their under-taxed dividends by buying from their sweatshop enabling purveyors of useless, low quality crap?

    1. OH  yeah, Maggie, that too.  However, I will cop to having shopped at Target…..in the 70’s when in St. Paul when it was still owned by the Dayton family.  And I also did by a Target Rodarte collection dress off eBay.

  8. It’s not a bus, it’s a coach! There’s a world of difference.
    But I guess the US, with less public transport, doesn’t need to differentiate, just like the UK only needs one word for pizza, and no words at all for concepts like ballpark, bayou, butte, bluff, eminent domain, bear claw, hominy, grits, hush puppy, chitlins, catercorner, sophomore… Moving here has been a delightful education.
    But that’s still a coach.

    1. I am in Brooklyn, NY.  I see the “Hampton Jitney” stop on a nearby corner every now and then. The problem is it’s not a “jitney” it’s a huge bus. True jitney’s are in NYC and they are called “dollar vans” and they are used by folks who need to get to deep areas of Brooklyn not adequately covered by public transportation. And heck, many of them stop about 1 block away from the “Hampton Jitney” stop! A true tale of two cities folks!

      So when I hear “jitney” I hear an entity trying to “snobify” a simple service instead of calling it for what it is. It’s a real problem here in NYC and even in the U.S.; folks are using words like “luxury”, “artisanal”, “fancy”, “exclusive” and others to schmaltz up simple things for snooty marketing reasons.

      1. folks are using words like “luxury”, “artisanal”, “fancy”, “exclusive” and others to schmaltz up simple things for snooty marketing reasons.

        As opposed to the 50s, when products were “fit for a queen” or “Imperial” and there were crowns on half the boxes in the grocery store?

        1. Okay, you have a point. But I have seen “Luxury Cat Condos” for sale at pet stores that are basically just the same old scratching post based cat houses. And while I grew up eating Hebrew National hot dogs that “answer to a higher authority” I did not eat “artisanal” hot dogs. I drank Royal Crown soda, but it was not a “locally crafted” soda.

          The difference is a lot of items in the past were given “luxury” names, but had normal/cheap price points. And the puffed up words were used in the brand name, not in the description of the item. Nowadays when I hear that a new “artisanal” food place is opening the first thought to mind is: “Overpriced burgers?  Or overpriced hot dogs?”

          1. My personal favorite is “luxury condos”, which absolutely every…single…..condo developed in the last 10 years appears to be…

            However, if you put “artisanal” in front of pie, well baby I am there!  In fact, you could have two of the same exact pies and if one was identified as artisanal, I know that one would taste better.  Just like toiletries in frosted glass bottles are better.  Or bottled by someone whose first name is Dr., is better too.

          2. My personal favorite is “luxury condos”, which absolutely every…single…..condo developed in the last 10 years appears to be…

            Yeah. One of the lectures in one of my design classes was about individual vs. mass, specifically around pin-striping on cars and how it went from a custom design element to standard very rapidly. I would make the same comment about body mods, but I’d get punched in the eye. Adding any new element to a design makes it ‘deluxe’, but when everyone else has added exactly the same element almost immediately, they all become deluxe instead of all becoming ‘standard’.

            Most of us had this discussion with our parents sometime during our adolescence when we made ourselves look exactly like everyone else in our quest to assert our individuality. It seems hard-wired.

          3. “Artisanal” is just a reaction to irradiated, robot-extruded, meat-food tubes, just like “irradiated, robot-extruded, meat-food tubes” were a reaction to granny’s home-cooked salmonella stew. 50 years ago, everybody wanted their food to have a Jetson’s appeal; now it’s swung the other way.

          4. True. But despite the fact I do consume “artisanal” food for exactly that reason, I wince whenever I walk into places that sell stuff like that and want to blow smoke up my ass. In fact it’s gotten to the point where I have taught myself how to politely stop a server who is about to ramble on incessantly about the “care” and “thought” put into their food and say a variation of: “Okay, this stuff is great! Can I order now? You will get money and I will get food! Yay!”

          5. I was looking at some redwood deck tiles online. They were something like $4 apiece at half the sites. And $12 apiece at the sites that labeled them ‘green’. If something’s really artisanal, I don’t care if they call it that. It’s either worth the price to me or not. If it’s artisanal as in producing 50 metric tons per year, that’s just deception.

          6. …at the sites that labeled them ‘green’.

            I absolutely love spotting green leaf labels/logos—“the environment”, “save the planet”, etc…—on products & ads! That’s when I know smoke is being blown up my ass with a leaf blower set on high!

  9. I fail to see how a bus is evidence of the excesses of the idle rich. Are any of you actually aware that there’s plenty more in the Hamptons (and the East End of LI in general) that the handful of resort areas and the obnoxious people who frequent them? How is this any different that any other bus line? Which person on the  Jitney is the most sinisterly wall street? My Dad the cop? My uncle the electrician? If you’re looking for evidence of pointless excess why not point to the Luxury Liner http://hamptonluxuryliner.com/ (they serve champagne!) or the charter helicopters (yes) that for some reason like to land illegally in public parks and beaches? Frankly a cheap bus full of college students and cranky old people is pretty low on the list of things wrong with this world.

    1. Ryuth,  you obviously haven’t been on the Hampton Jitney.  Itis NOT full of college students and cranky seniors; it’s a luxury charter bus full of exclusively white very rich middle-aged folks going to zillion-dollar properties or one of the ferries to an even more private island.

      You want a “regular” bus line look at the atrocious Red and Tan lines in Westchester/Rockland, or the truly disgusting Shortline busses in the tri-state area.  Commuter hell…

      1. Jenonymous I’m from the East End originally. I ride the Jitney on a fairly regular basis, and this is the first I’m learning about all those private Islands me and my neighbors own. And luxury charter bus? Bolt Bus is significantly nicer, and the Jitney’s fleet  is often supplemented with rundown buses on loan from the China Town bus companies. And honestly on what planet do people with “zillion dollar” homes ride a $22 charter bus? Sure they’re are plenty of waspy tourists looking to brag about spending time in the Hamptons especially during the summer. But despite your assumptions the charter bus in question isn’t some gold plated pleasure palace running straight to the most annoying part of Southampton Village. They operate through every town East of Riverhead, both forks. This is especially useful since these areas are increasingly inaccessible by rail thanks to LIRR cutbacks. An despite whatever impression might be given on a day trip out there or in the media the area is still decidedly rural and heavily blue collar. Even in the Southampton Town (which the most visible new money/yuppie destination) the bulk of the locals are fisherman, farmers, civil servants, construction workers, small business owners and the like. So given all that I fail to see how an entirely normal bus serves as some sort of condemnation for the whole area. Especially when the completely ridiculous Luxary Liner is exactly what everyone seems to assume the Jitney is. As for the name? The company started with vans (aka Jitneys) as described above.

      2. Dear Jitney expert:
        I was on the Hampton Jitney a week and a half ago. I live in the Hamptons and I’m a librarian who is definitely not wealthy. My Mom and I just wanted to see Zarkana. I’ve lived and worked out here for many years and the people who are going to those “zillion dollar properties” from Manhattan have these things called “limousines” to take them there. They’re like cars but really big and stretched out. And they come with their own driver, but alas, no party mix! The Jitney is $40 round trip, whereas the train is just a little less at peak times and much less convenient. That’s why us workin’-class folk now take us the Jitney when we’s go to town.

        1. I think you miss the point. The issue is not how much the bus costs, but the fact it’s called a “jitney” which implies the bus is somehow some salt-of-the-earth working class level apparatus, when the reality is it’s a bus that’s a lot more comfortable, air-conditioned and spacious than most true “jitneys” (aka: dollar vans) in Brooklyn are.

          Call it “Hampton Express” or “Hamption Cruiser” but don‘t call it a “jitney” when it isn’t in any way, shape or form anymore.

          1. Jack –
            Ohmigod – you’re right! The Jitney is indeed guilty of fraud, forgery, and blatant misrepresentation! I say we all get together and start a class-action lawsuit. THAT’LL show their lying asses! 
            And ya know what else? Money is green and so are the Jitney buses. What if someone saw one coming down the highway and thought it was a flying wad of money? They would probably try to catch it and get smashed to pieces. Another deliberate ploy to fool the public!
            Thank god I now know THE POINT. How could I have missed it all this time? And me being from the Hamptons and everything. I am so ashamed! 

  10. OK, OK, y’all win! I FAIL! Thank god for the delete button.  But I still miss my jazz musicians!  

  11. @boingboing-421b3ac5c24ee992edd6087611c60dbb:disqus  As I pointed out above the Hampton Jitney started in the 70’s with small vans exactly like the jitneys you describe, hence the name. The coach buses themselves are relatively recent development .

  12. Calling it the Hampton Express would a a greater misrepresentation.  There’s nothing express about getting to The Hamptons from Manhattan unless you’re in something that can fly.  

    1. We’ve got a blind date with destiny… and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster.

  13. My experiences with things called “jitneys” isn’t gypsy cabs, it’s usually large open-topped motor vehicles hauling groups of people around zoos, outdoor museums, and similar places where a full-scale bus is overkill and limits visibility.

    There was a recent episode of Royal Pains where the Hamptons Jitney crashes (and our Doctor Protagonist is nearby and saves people), and yeah, it’s just a bus.

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