- Associated Press - Monday, June 12, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Uber and Lyft are coming to Alaska, but not to the state capital’s most popular tourist attraction.

Gov. Bill Walker is expected to sign a bill that will make Alaska the last state to allow the ride-hailing services.

But tourists will still have to come by bus or taxi to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau because taking an Uber or Lyft won’t be an option.

“The bottom line for us is people can’t conduct a business in a national forest without asking first,” said Jessica Schalkowski, who manages special-use permits for the Tongass National Forest, including the glacier.

Under House Bill 132, each driver is an independent contractor, responsible for his or her own business licensing.

According to Forest Service regulations, someone running a business needs to have a special-use permit “if there is a fee being charged or if income is derived from the use (of Forest Service land).”

That includes businesses like Uber and Lyft that would transport people to the glacier and the visitor center.

In 2015, the Forest Service opened applications for a new round of permits intended to meet rising tourist demand. The agency received more than three and a half times the number of applicants than it had spaces available at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, the Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2tcFFdS ).

There won’t be another round of permit applications for another few years, Juneau District Ranger Brad Orr and Schalkowski said by phone. The new permits expire in 2020.

“At the present time, we are not accepting any applications or new proposals for the Mendenhall Visitor Center Area,” Orr said.

That leaves Uber and Lyft out of luck.

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