Ocracoke Express ferry ridership on par with pre-pandemic levels

Published 3:14 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation has reported that the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry has been a runaway success in its fourth season of service, nearly matching pre-pandemic ridership levels over the first two months of its 2022 season despite using a smaller vessel.

In May and June, the passenger ferry shuttled 10,063 people between Hatteras and Ocracoke, nearly matching the pre-pandemic 2019 season (10,152 passengers).

“People are ready to travel this season, and they’re discovering that the Ocracoke Express is the easiest and quickest way to go on a day trip between Hatteras and Ocracoke,” said Ferry Division director Harold Thomas.

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The numbers are made more impressive by the fact that the new state-owned ferry has a smaller capacity than the leased boat used during the service’s first three seasons. The vessel used from 2019-21 had a capacity of 149 people, the new boat carries 129 people.

The Ocracoke Express whisks people on a 70-minute trip between Hatteras and Silver Lake Harbor in Ocracoke Village, where a free tram operated by Hyde County is available to carry them around the village to shops, restaurants, accommodations and attractions. Advance reservations are available online at www.ncferry.org or on the phone at 1-800-BY-FERRY.

Passenger ferry service is a supplement to the vehicle ferries, which continue to take people between Hatteras and the north end of Ocracoke Island.