News Releases

5/18/2015: NC Ferry System Makes Summer Schedule Changes May 19

NC Ferry System Makes Summer Schedule Changes May 19

Posted 5/18/2015 2:21:31 PM

(MANNS HARBOR) - With Memorial Day just a week away, the North Carolina Ferry Division is beefing up its schedule on Pamlico Sound and adjusting times on its Hatteras Inlet route to better serve both residents and visitors during the busy summer season. Beginning Tuesday, May 19, ferry service between Cedar Island and Ocracoke will go from three daily round trips to five, while round-trip service between Swan Quarter and Ocracoke will increase from three to four daily departures. On the Hatteras Inlet route, the Ferry Division is making departure times 15 minutes earlier on ten select trips (five on each side) in order to spread ferry runs out more evenly. The total number of departures from each side remains at 36. A complete updated listing of ferry routes and departure times can be downloaded at http://www.ncdot.gov/download/transit/ferry/ferryschedule.pdf.(NCDOT)
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5/12/2015: NC Ferry System Seeks Hatteras 'Early Birds' After Switch To Summer Schedule

NC Ferry System Seeks Hatteras 'Early Birds' After Switch To Summer Schedule

Posted 5/12/2015 3:55:21 PM

(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.(NCDOT)
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5/7/2015: Ferry Crew Receives "Extra Mile" Award For Boater Rescue

Ferry Crew Receives "Extra Mile" Award For Boater Rescue

Posted 5/7/2015 1:26:47 PM

(Raleigh) - North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata today presented the crew of the ferry Thomas A. Baum with the Department's Extra Mile Award for the March rescue of a boater from an overturned sailboat on the Neuse River. The incident occurred March 29 as the Baum was heading out on its 2 p.m. run between Cherry Branch and Minnesott Beach. Upon departing, the crew overheard a radio call to the U.S. Coast Guard from a stranded boater requesting immediate assistance. Captain Wendell Hunnings then turned the ferry toward the sailboat, and after arriving on scene crew members Jeremy Dixon and Shawn Lewis launched the Baum's small rescue boat and sped toward the sailor, Daniel Roe of New Bern. Upon arriving, Dixon and Lewis pulled Roe into the rescue boat, then attached a line onto the rigging of the sailboat and righted it. After determining that Roe was uninjured, they allowed him to climb back into his sailboat. The crew members then returned to the Baum and the ferry completed its scheduled run.  "We want to thank these crew members for their quick thinking and heroic actions," said Tata. "It is my honor to present to them the Extra Mile Award for their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to serve and protect others." Receiving the award today were Captain Wendell Hunnings, Mate Hal Gray, Chief Engineer George Pennuell, Oiler Jeremy Dixon, and Seamen Shawn Lewis and Paul Abarre.((NCDOT))
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(NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata (right) presents the crew of the ferry Thomas A. Baum with the Department's Extra Mile Award. (Crew L-R: George Pennuell, Jeremy Dixon, Shawn Lewis, Paul Abarre, Hal Gray, and Wendell Hunnings)
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5/4/2015: Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Posted 5/4/2015 3:56:08 PM

Hatteras-The people who live on the Outer Banks don't need anyone to tell them Hatteras Inlet's width is growing. Old timers here will tell you the distance between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands used to be the length of a good tee shot. Now, the inlet separating the two coastal enclaves is nearly two miles wide. Hurricane Isabel seemed to kickstart the process in 2003. Hurricane Irene in 2011 made it worse. For the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System, the widening inlet created shoaling that clogged the channel its car ferries traditionally used to carry hundreds of thousands people and vehicles between the two islands every year. Despite repeated attempts by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the channel open, its dredging efforts weren't enough. In December 2013, the Ferry Division determined the route was no longer safe, and switched to a longer, more stable route that extended further into Pamlico Sound. Despite its safety and stability, the new route led to new problems. Significantly higher fuel costs. Fewer scheduled departures in the busy summer season. Longer lines. Frustrated residents and visitors. "Right now, we have a major congestion problem at Hatteras," says North Carolina Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "Day trippers are turning around rather than waiting for hours to board a ferry. Because of that, fewer people are visiting Ocracoke. We have to do something." That "something" could come in the form of the M/V Provincetown III, which arrived on the Outer Banks May 1 and was opened to the public for tours May 4-5. The ship, a 149-passenger catamaran-type ferry, is making several test runs between the islands, in what could be a prelude to supplementing the current fleet of car ferries with passenger-only ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor, right in the heart of Ocracoke Village. "The idea is that passengers would be taken straight into the village, where they wouldn't necessarily need their cars," says Ferry Division Assistant Director Jed Dixon. "If we could bring more people to Ocracoke in fewer vehicles, it would be a win-win for the Ferry System and for the people and businesses of Ocracoke." The visit from the Provincetown III, which is on the way from its winter home in the Caribbean to its summer job ferrying passengers between Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, is part of a feasibility study on passenger ferry service and other alternatives to alleviate the Hatteras congestion. The North Carolina Department of Transportation contracted with transportation consulting firm Volkert to conduct the study, which is set to be completed by the end of 2015. "We'll be asking all the tough questions," says Will Letchworth, a transportation engineer and Volkert's project manager. "Will day trippers be willing to part with their cars? Where can they park in Hatteras? How many passenger ferries would we need and what size should they be? Would there need to be transit options in Ocracoke? What kind of docks would need to be built? Would continuous dredging in Hatteras Inlet be feasible? There are a lot of differing opinions out there, and we will be listening to all of them." One thing everyone agrees on is that something needs to be done soon. Visitation to Ocracoke, accessible only by boat or private plane, dropped by 20 percent after the ferries started using the longer route. "Ocracoke's economy can't take any more hits," says Hyde County Manager Bill Rich. "Tourists are the lifeblood of this island, and ferries are the only way we have to get them here. One way or another, we need to get our visitors back." For now, the Ferry Division is strongly encouraging this summer's travelers to take their Ocracoke trips in off-peak hours, hoping to move the needle enough to alleviate the longest wait times. But everyone knows it's only a temporary fix. ***NCDOT***
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4/10/2015: NCDOT Ferry Division Sets June 5 Deadline For Ocracoke Business Priority Passes

NCDOT Ferry Division Sets June 5 Deadline For Ocracoke Business Priority Passes

Posted 4/10/2015 2:00:29 PM

(HATTERAS) - Summer is on its way, and with it comes the deadline for businesses and vendors serving Ocracoke Island to secure their 2015 Priority Passes for the Hatteras Inlet ferry. This year's application deadline is Friday, June 5. Vendors and businesses must verify that they are a provider of a service to Ocracoke and may apply for a priority pass if their company travels to Ocracoke at least twice a week, every week. An application must be obtained at the Hatteras Terminal, appropriately filled out and then approved by the Ferry Division before a sticker is issued and picked up by the vendor. The process to obtain the sticker takes at least one week and passes are canceled if the sticker is not picked up within three weeks of the application date. If a business misses the June 5 priority pass deadline, priority status will be decided on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please contact the Hatteras Terminal at 252-986-2353.((NCDOT))
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