Jitney Going the Extra Mile

Geoff Lynch, the president of the Hampton Jitney, seen with Joan Overlook of Goodcircle, will donate buses and drivers to get I-Tri athletes to their swim practices. Judy D’Mello

As of Monday, the Hampton Jitney will introduce a new route: a round-trip service from local schools to Noyac’s Long Beach. The additional route will not be found on the company’s online schedule, and the driver of the bus might occasionally be Geoff Lynch, the president of the Hampton Jitney.

“It’s a busy time of year for us,” said Mr. Lynch, in his Southampton office overlooking the rear parking lot where the black and green coaches were lined up, ready to be dispatched. “So, yes, if the girls need me, I’ll get behind the wheel.”

The “girls” are about 100 middle schoolers, training for a July 13 youth triathlon at Long Beach. The Hampton Jitney will provide free service so that the girls can start their grueling practices in the open water on Monday. The event is the culmination of the I-Tri program, a goal-based, comprehensive empowerment program for middle school girls, whose motto is Transformation Through Triathlon.

I-Tri was founded by an East Hampton resident, Theresa Roden, seven years ago. It is entirely free for adolescent girls who commit to a six-month period of triathlon-specific training sessions and weekly group lessons focused on self-esteem building and leadership skills. In addition, after-school fitness classes such as yoga and spinning, and hands-on nutrition classes, which families are welcome to attend, are offered.

The athletes began their overall training for the triathlon, consisting of a 300-yard open-water swim, seven-mile bike, and 1.5-mile run, in February. In its inaugural season, Ms. Roden organized school buses to shuttle her girls to and from the swim practices, which was fine, she said, when she only had a handful of athletes. But numbers burgeoned, and by the second season the organization had over 30 participants. Ms. Roden approached the Hampton Jitney for help.

“We get asked often for help,” said Mr. Lynch. “This one particularly appealed to me because it involves real working folks in the Hamptons, and young girls who are really committed to being active, strong, and healthy.” Through a partnership with goodcircle.org, a crowdfunding campaign site, Hampton Jitney also supports Fighting Chance, a Sag Harbor nonprofit that provides rides for cancer patients to and from faraway doctor’s appointments.

Joan Overlook, a co-founder of Goodcircle, works with I-Tri to raise money to fund the girls’ summer training program and cover costs for professional trainers’ fees and their transportation. As of yesterday, the Goodcircle website showed that its goal of raising some $38,500 for I-Tri was 96 percent complete. None of that money, said Ms. Overlook, will go to the jitney, which donates 100 percent of the cost needed to transport the triathletes.

“Let me give you a dollar value of what the Hampton Jitney does,” said Ms. Overlook. “For three weeks they provide four vehicles, three times a week, plus a team of drivers who will cover 2,300 miles. That’s about $26,500 in operating costs.”

For Ms. Roden, the fact that she was able to eliminate transportation as a line item from her yearly total was a burden lifted. “It is important to note that most of our girls would not be able to successfully finish their training without this service provided by the Hampton Jitney,” she said. “Most of the girls’ parents work, so it’s simply not possible for them to drive their kids around.” In addition to providing coaches and drivers, Ms. Roden pointed out, the bus company will drop off the girls, following practice, at their regular school bus stops, enabling them to walk home. I-Tri participants come from middle schools in Montauk, East Hampton, Springs, Sag Harbor, Southampton, and the William Floyd School District.

Mr. Lynch began his career at the transportation company with a summer job as a trip host in 1998. He moved on to become a reservation agent and then a driver, before being promoted to the top spot in 2002. Occasionally, he says, he still feels the need to get behind the wheel of a bus, so the chance of the girls being driven to their practice sessions by the president of the Hampton Jitney is a good one indeed.