Hatteras - The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System switched to its full summer schedule of 36 daily round-trip departures between Hatteras and Ocracoke Tuesday, calling on summer day trippers to strongly consider going as early in the day as possible to avoid wait times in the peak season.
"We've always suggested visitors try to avoid the peak times of the day when traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke," said Ferry Division Communications Officer Tim Hass. "This year, we're coming right out and saying it: The best way to get out of ferry lines is to travel early, travel late, or travel between Friday and Monday. We have years of data to back that up."
That data shows that in general, there are no waits at Hatteras before 9 a.m., with lines starting to form around 10. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is the peak travel time, with lines generally dissipating by 4 p.m.
On the Ocracoke side, there is usually no waiting before 2 p.m. Cars begin to stack up by 3 p.m. and lines are the longest between 6-7. By 9 p.m., those lines are usually gone.
"People still want to go to Ocracoke, and they should go to Ocracoke," said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "By adjusting their schedule just a little, they can spend less time in a ferry line and more time on Ocracoke. And that's what vacation should be about."
The Ferry System has created a web page at www.ncferry.org/earlybird with more information and will be encouraging off-peak travel all summer via advertising and social media.