New shuttle service offered between Whitehorse, Haines

The Mercedes Sprinter van used by Hinterland Express. (Photo courtesy of David Simmons)

The Mercedes Sprinter van used by Hinterland Express. (Photo courtesy of David Simmons)

Finding a way to get to Whitehorse from Haines is challenging for anyone who doesn’t own a car.

Regular transportation service between the two cities hasn’t existed for years.

David Simmons hopes to change that with his new business Hinterland Express.

Simmons first got the idea to start a shuttle service between Haines and Whitehorse after he needed to make the trip himself.

He recently moved to Haines from Bavaria and takes regular trips to Germany throughout the year.

“There’s a direct flight with Condor (Airlines) from Frankfurt to Whitehorse,” Simmons said. “No 36-hour layovers in Seattle or Juneau airport and sleeping on the floor there and everything. Then I realized there’s no connection — public transport — between Whitehorse and Haines.”

He initially thought most of his passengers would be German tourists who had taken the flight from Frankfurt.

“The more I’ve been speaking about this new business of mine to people around town … I’m starting to see more and more locals who can actually use the service as well, and it’s not just the German tourists who are coming in,” Simmons said.

The now-defunct O’Harra Bus Lines briefly offered service in the late 1940s between the two cities, and tours operating out of Whitehorse have offered transportation to Haines in the past.

Transportation options currently are limited for people who don’t own cars.

Transport to Whitehorse is available from Skagway through Fraser, B.C., on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad Route. But this option only is available as part of a tour package. Other than that, travelers must rent a car.

Hinterland Express will offer regular service between Haines and Whitehorse with one stop in Haines Junction as well.

“I planned on starting next season, but then this Mercedes Sprinter came into my life,” Simmons said. “And so I said, ‘Let’s test it out this summer.’”

Simmons will offer trips in August to Whitehorse from Haines on Sundays and trips to Haines from Whitehorse on Mondays.

So far, he has made one trip this season. He carried one passenger from Haines to the Yukon. He says he was surprised by how well he got to know his passenger during their trip together.

“When you sit in a car together for 4 1/2 hours then you really get to know someone and share some life stories and figure out how they came to be where they are today,” Simmons said. “I really like that aspect of it, and it’s become more of an aspect of the job than I had initially imagined, and I like that.”

Passengers must have a valid passport that allows for entry into Canada and the U.S., and appropriate visas if applicable.

People can make reservations online at hinterlandexpress.com or call Simmons directly to book a trip.

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