Raleigh - Summer congestion on the North Carolina Ferry Division's Hatteras route could be significantly relieved by two passenger-only ferries, according to the results of a study done for the state. The Ferry Division unveiled those results today at the Board of Transportation's Multi-Modal committee meeting in Raleigh.
The study by infrastructure engineering company Volkert recommends two 100-passenger ferries making eight round-trips a day between Hatteras and Ocracoke Village. It also recommends a $15 round-trip toll, as well as a transit loop run by Hyde County to take visitors from the terminal through Ocracoke Village and to various island attractions such as the lighthouse and the National Park Service's Pony Pens.
"We want to thank Volkert for the time and effort they put into this study," said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "It is a very thorough and comprehensive document that lays out the opportunities and challenges we face at Hatteras in the summer travel season. It gives us many things to consider as we move forward."
The study involved a year-long look at ferry service between Ocracoke and Hatteras, and included several meetings with local residents, as well as passenger surveys during the peak of the summer. The study also included a trial run by the Provincetown III, a ferry that spends its summers taking passengers between Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The study examined four other alternatives to relieve the Hatteras congestion problem, including a year-round dredging program to return to the original "short route", an increased number of departures on the current route, encouraging walk-on passengers on the current route, and a passenger ferry to the Division's South Dock Terminal.
The study concluded that the passenger ferry to Ocracoke Village would be the safest, most efficient option, and that 25 percent of current ferry riders would take the passenger ferry service and be willing to pay a $15 round-trip toll. The study notes that infrastructure improvements, including passenger terminals, parking areas, and pedestrian transit on Ocracoke are needed before any such service can begin.
A full copy of the Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study is on the NCDOT website.
The Provincetown III visits Ocracoke on a passenger ferry trial run in May 2015.