Fast and furious" is not an accurate description for Cindy Starter's driving style, as she carefully negotiates the red trolley she drives through traffic, around corners and in between pedestrians. But it's an almost-perfect description of the delivery of her tourist spiel.
"On the right we'll be driving by a statue of Joe Juneau you can give him a high five low five any kind of five," she said in one breath, her voice a mix of a robot and an auctioneer.
She barely inhaled before beginning her next description: "On the right again we have the Alaskan Fudge Company it's highly recommended most people that go in there don't come out of there empty-handed."
Phew. More than 20 minutes later, as she pulled the trolley in front of the Alaska State Museum, she reminded herself of her basic needs.
"Breathe," she told herself, laughing.
Linda Williams, who was working with Starter as the conductor of the trolley, laughed too.
Starter and Williams, employees of the Juneau Trolley Car Company, spend most days driving and riding through downtown Juneau on one of the three trolleys the company owns. They take visitors and some Juneau residents from South Franklin Street up to Fourth Street, past the Capitol, the State Office Building, the Governor's House, Cope Park and then down 12th Street.
The car then turns on Glacier Highway, passes the Federal Building and Gold Creek and turns on Whittier to stop at the Alaska State Museum. From there, the trolley returns to the downtown library and then to the Franklin Street dock or the terminal for the Mount Roberts Tram.
The three trolley companies in town - the Juneau Trolley Car Company, the Last Frontier Tours trolley and the Little Green Trolley operated by Capital City Tours - follow the same three-and-a-half mile route. They all offer passengers the option of getting on and off as they please, providing tourists with a convenient way to travel to downtown attractions.
"We thought it would be the best and the quickest way to see most of the town," said Ken Genheimer of Columbus, Ohio. He and his son, Craig, climbed aboard Starter's car in front of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to see the cultural side of Juneau while the rest of the family shopped. Earlier that day, they caught a ride on a Juneau Trolley Car Company car driven by Tim Parker.
"We've gotten people that will ride four or five times a day just to listen to us," said Starter.
That may be because of the amount of information squeezed into the half-hour tours.
The tours, primarily given by drivers while the conductors sell tickets and look after passengers, are full of facts about downtown Juneau. The oldest house in Juneau is located at 229 Franklin St., for example. And many of the houses on 12th Street actually were moved from Franklin Street when the downtown area turned into a red-light district, Starter tells passengers.
Parker's tour highlighted other historical points. The current location for the Red Dog Saloon is the historic bar's third location in Juneau; the Senate Building used to be an apartment building; the Summit Restaurant, one of Juneau's fanciest, at one point was a brothel.
"We do provide a script outline and then people can personalize it to what they might know about the community," said Darrell Brown, director of land operations for the Juneau Trolley Car Company.
Tourists and Juneau residents can pay $12.50 for a day pass for the three trolley cars operated by the Juneau Trolley Car Company, said Brown. Trolleys leave from the Mount Roberts Tram or the Franklin Street dock every 20 or 30 minutes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on days when a cruise ship is in town.
The cars are busiest in the morning, when the ships arrive in town, said Al Barril, the conductor on Starter's car.
Juneau residents receive a 50 percent discount and pay $5 for an all-day pass on the Little Green Trolley, which operates one car in downtown. Prices for the Last Frontier Tours trolley were not available.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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