A new transportation service is ready to hit Huntington Village’s streets this August.
Qwik Ride plans to roll out a free shuttle service across downtown Huntington, offering visitors who park further away a ride to or between area restaurants, bars and stores with a simple click of an app or flagging down a ride.
“This transportation could be used in suburban areas where you have to find your parking spot, and you don’t want to leave it,” said Daniel Cantelmo, co-founder of Qwik Ride. “Where parking is so tough, people have turned around and left.”
Cantelmo said he and his fellow co-founder John Yancigay first came up with the business concept while on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
“This transportation could be used in suburban areas where you have to find your parking spot, and you don’t want to leave it.”
– Daniel Cantelmo
“We saw this free shuttle service that would take you anywhere in Nashville,” he said. “We thought it was pretty cool.”
This May, Cantelmo said they launched the service in his hometown of Patchogue using modified six-passenger golf carts to shuttle customers from the waterfront restaurants and bars to downtown businesses. The electric-powered vehicles are enclosed with a full set of doors, have heat and can continue to run through inclement weather — except for snow, according to Cantelmo. He said Qwik Ride has provided more than 700 free lifts to Patchogue passengers this month as of July 13, and he expects that number to continue to grow.
“We’ve had a lot of success in Patchogue,” Cantelmo said. “We know Huntington is going to follow suit. Huntington is a little more condensed.”
He sees the free shuttles as a potential solution to what he called a “twofold” parking problem in Huntington. First, area business employees come into work early and take up front-row or prime parking spots in the village throughout their eight-hour shifts, according to Cantelmo. Second, there are plenty of parking lots on the outskirts of town that are underutilized because they require a long walk.
“Uber is helping that situation, but we are taking it one step further,” he said.
The two co-founders reached out to Huntington Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Business Improvement District to invite business owners down to The Paramount to talk about the new service they would be launching with two vehicles, adding up to three more with time for a total of five shuttles.
“It sounds like a great idea to free up some parking in town,” Ellen O’Brien, executive director of Huntington’s chamber said. “It’s innovative, it’s free, it’s cutting edge and it will free up parking spaces.”
“It sounds like a great idea to free up some parking in town.”
– Ellen O’Brien
The Paramount in Huntington is one business that was already on board with asking its employees to park further out to free up spots for customers. Adam Ellis, the theater’s director of marketing, said Paramount staff has been utilizing Huntington Town Hall’s lot for the last year and a half to use a shuttle bus to get back and forth to work.
“We hope the Qwik Ride program will help other businesses in town to offer their staff alternative transportation to their job while parking further from town to open up more spaces for guests as a way to improve parking in town,” Ellis said.
The free shuttles are paid for by advertising, according to Cantelmo, as local businesses are invited to buy space on the outside of each vehicle. He hopes these same businesses will commit to getting employees involved in parking in distant lots and hailing a Qwik Ride.
“Everyone has truly got to be on board,” Cantelmo said. “If The Paramount is on board but Honu [Kitchen & Cocktails] isn’t, then all it will do is open up more parking for Honu. The community has to work together, and everyone has to be on board. Then it will benefit everybody.”