Hatteras-Ocracoke passenger ferry service resumes
The Hatteras-Ocracoke passenger ferry is scheduled to start runs Friday, July 3.
The ferry has passed its required U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection. The NCDOT passenger ferry reservation system is in place. The ferry’s route has been verified.
Ferry Division Deputy Director Jed Dixon announced that the ferry will run the same schedule as last year: departing Hatteras ferry terminal at 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; departing Ocracoke Silver Lake Terminal 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Last year, crossing time was about 70 minutes.
The ticket price is $5 one way, $10 round trip. For a reservation, call 1-800-BY FERRY or online at https://ferry.ncdot.gov/#/. The passenger ferry will run until Sept. 10.
In response to the COVID-19, the passenger limit will be 96 instead of the 149 passengers last season. No refreshments will be available.
The ferry system, considered public transit, is strongly encouraging the wearing of face coverings while on board both inside in the seating area and on the deck along with maintaining physical distancing. The ferry division has also implemented a cleaning protocol between departures. Hand sanitizer will be available.
At the Silver Lake Terminal, restrooms facilities are available. The National Park Service’s Ocracoke visitor center staff will issue boat slip agreements for the dozen dock slips in Silver Lake and boat trailer permits for overnight parking in the service’s parking area. Staff will also, in a partnership with NCDOT, sell passenger ferry tickets in the near future. National Park Service interpretive exhibits are in development.
Hyde County is working on making the free trams available. Five new trams have been ordered.
This season’s passenger ferry is possible due to recently passed and signed legislation.
On June 30, Gov. Roy Cooper signed S.750 introduced by N.C. Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan). The legislation, approved by the General Assembly June 25, authorizes the lease of a passenger ferry until Sept. 10, 2020, and appropriates $1,146,179 for the lease and operations. The funds come from the Department of Transportation’s contingency fund. Rep. Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck) also supported the legislation.
Steinburg and Hanig issued the following joint statement: “We are pleased by the passage of the $1.2 million for the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry. Under the best of circumstances, we know that the ferry has been successfully operational. We know that the ferry is critical to Ocracoke as the island has taken a multitude of gut punches, starting with Hurricane Dorian last September. We are hopeful that the operation of the ferry will be a good start to helping Ocracoke heal.”
According to an NCDOT press release, the “Ocracoke Express carried nearly 29,000 passengers between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands during its inaugural season in the summer of 2019.”
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