Fairbanks has a reputation as a jumping-off point for adventure. People call it the Hub of the Interior or the Gateway to the Bush. It’s Alaska’s second-largest city and the biggest one in the state’s interior. Working in Fairbanks for a season opens up all sorts of options for discovering life in Alaska. But Fairbanks is built around the automobile, so if you arrive without one, you’ll have to be creative with how you get around. The good news is there are other options, so you won’t be stranded. Here are six ways to get around the city and the surrounding region if you don’t have your own car.
Take advantage of MACS. The public bus system is affordable and links downtown with shopping areas and the university, so it’s a good choice for running everyday errands. Timetables are online, but service doesn’t run on Sundays, so make sure to get your bus-related trips done during the week or on Saturday. Bonus: There’s a free app, RouteShout, to track where buses on each route are in real time and when the next bus will arrive at your stop (or check the real-time online map).
Hail a taxi. When it comes down to convenience, a taxi might take the cake. Maybe you’d never envisioned a taxi this far north, but Fairbanks has cabs just like any other city. If you need to get somewhere specific at a certain time—and the bus isn’t cutting it—a taxi might be the best option. Arctic Taxi (907-455-0000) is a popular option.
Hop on a train. The train won’t be much help within the city, but if you’ve got the itch to explore, the train might be even better than having your own car. You can simply sit back and relax as the scenery goes by—no reason to stress about traffic or paying attention to the road. Dream of visiting Denali National Park or checking out a frontier town like Talkeetna? The Denali Star route is the way to go. You can even take it all the way to Anchorage.
Share a ride. Another option is to post on the Craigslist Fairbanks rideshare page. Often people making trips will look for passengers to share gas costs with. Leaving a note on a work bulletin board is another way to find people who might be willing to split an errand-running trip with someone in exchange for a little gas money or a free lunch.
Rent a car. Renting a car in Alaska isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s certainly the most versatile. If you’re dreaming up a day trip—or longer—that’s off the beaten track, Fairbanks is home to several rental companies that will set you up. Whether it’s Avis, Budget, Hertz, or any other, you’ll get the freedom of the open road you crave.
Enjoy a tour bus or shuttle. Whether you’re interested in checking out a local salmon bake or touring a gold mine, many of the attractions around Fairbanks and beyond can be reached via tourist shuttle services. Prices vary by destination, but will likely be cheaper than the train. Airlink Shuttle offers services to many local spots, while Interior Alaska Bus Line travels from Fairbanks to Delta Junction, Tok, Palmer, Anchorage, and Northway. Plus, many of the local attractions—like the Chena Hot Springs—offer their own shuttle services, because they know many visitors rely on public transport once they arrive in the state.
Fairbanks certainly isn’t known for its public transportation, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get around. A season in Fairbanks without your own vehicle is perfectly doable. A little creativity goes a long way, and tapping into the tourism infrastructure can open up all sorts of adventures.