Mechanical difficulties halt Ocracoke Express passenger ferry service

Published 12:08 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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North Carolina’s passenger ferry, the Ocracoke Express, has mechanical difficulties.

The state’s ferry division “canceled all departures until further notice” on July 6, though the breakdown happened July 5.

The mechanical problem is the starboard hydraulic steering pump, said NCDOT spokesperson Tim Hass.

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The state-owned passenger ferry was launched last year, but a contracted ferry was provided starting in 2019. The seasonal ferry runs from the Hatteras village ferry dock to Silver Lake on Ocracoke. A free tram service is available for getting around Ocracoke.

On Friday morning, July 7, Hass said the Hatteras field maintenance staff had not been able to fix the pump problem.

Vehicle ferry transportation to Ocracoke has slowed.

On May 26, the ferry division announced the summer schedule, which included four departures on each side of the Pamlico Sound routes from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter.

The media release also said, “the Hatteras-Ocracoke vehicle ferry route will continue running 36 scheduled departures each day, with additional unscheduled departures added when possible during high traffic demands.”

Currently, due to state budget considerations, the ferry division is only running 18 scheduled departures on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. The division adds more departures when traffic backs up.

The state does not have a signed budget for the now-current fiscal year 2024. It is anticipated that budget issues may be resolved by the end of July.