By Melinda Munson

When the first big cruise ships arrive in late July for a shortened tourist season due to COVID-19, SMART Bus will provide transportation, but only on days large ships dock. The recently approved 2021 SMART Bus contract is a departure from previous years.

The shuttle service will charge $2 per head or $5 for the entire day, and for this year only, will not pay any fees to the municipality.

“This is probably the simplest solution we could come up with that’s not an exorbitant cost to the municipality…” said Assemblymember Orion Hanson at the June 17 assembly meeting when the SMART Bus contract was unanimously approved.

Skagway Street Car Company will service the smaller American Constellation ship.

New this year is Skagway Shuttle Service, which is scheduled to run July 15 to October 31. Operated by Billi and Greg Clem of Klondike Tours, the company was the only operation to submit a bid to serve independent travellers. The contract is worth $24,000 plus the cost of fares.

“It’s not big money,” Greg said. But he thinks the business opportunity is “good for everybody.”

Skagway Shuttle Service will charge $5 per person in-town, $10 per person past the bridge to Liarsville and $15 per person to Dyea. Normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Those in need of a ride outside of operating hours can make a reservation 24 hours in advance (907-612-0902).

The shuttle service will be staffed by the Clems and their extended family. Greg hopes the paychecks will help his relatives make it through the winter.

Additionally, the Dyea-Chilkoot Trail Transport company, owned by Ann Moore, provides daily shuttles to Dyea from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment (907-612-8024).

Prior to Skagway Shuttle Service’s contract approval, Skagway’s independent tourists had no means of transportation within town as the city has no taxi or Uber service.