to Ocracoke have been purchasing passes to get into the priority
loading lane for Ocracoke docks since Jan. 1, but they’re not all
that happy about the $150 price tag per pass.
are able to purchase as many passes as they want, but there was some
initial confusion about it earlier this month since the application
on the N.C. Ferry System website had said vendors were limited to two
priority lane at the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry terminals was
established to expedite islanders’ and vendors’ access to and
from the island. Only island residents and vendors may use this
Hass, spokesman for the Ferry Division, said Wednesday that online
vendor application is in the process of being changed to show that
they may purchase unlimited passes.
can go into the Hatteras Ferry terminal and get as many passes as
they need,” he said.
this change occurred after Chris Bock, Hatteras ferry terminal
operations manager, and Hyde County Manager Bill Rich went to bat for
the vendors, said Nathan Spencer, owner of Coastal Gas in Powell’s
said he has to purchase at least five passes for his propane trucks
to deliver to Ocracoke businesses and residences.
of the other vendors will have to purchase even more passes, said
Tommy Hutcherson, manager of the Ocracoke Variety Store, who deals
with about 75 vendors each year.
send two bulk trucks here on Wednesdays for us and the gas station,”
he said. “Then they have a salesman who comes on a Tuesday, then
the draft truck and sometimes supervisors have to come. So, they must
there are the numerous smaller vendors who deliver to the island who
will have this added expense.
this is good news that the vendors can purchase multiple passes, they
still aren’t happy about it, Hutcherson said.
must be verified as a provider of regular commercial services to
Ocracoke Island, and they will be monitored to make sure they are
actually making deliveries and not just jumping in the priority lane
for a fishing trip, Hass said.
don’t want people abusing it,” he said. “Even Ocracoke
residents have said there are too many priority passes out there and
the priority lane is too busy.”
ensure this, the vendor pass holder must also make at least 24 trips
to Ocracoke annually, Hass said.
N.C. General Assembly approved this new fee in June along with an
annual appropriation for ferry replacement and a one-time
appropriation for infrastructure and maintenance as well as money to
activate a passenger ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
enacting of this priority pass fee was a compromise between
legislators who have been pushing for both a toll on the Hatteras
Ferry and for Ocracoke residents to pay for their residential
vendors will be passing on the cost of these passes to the island.
created a toll for us that will burden the businesses and residents
of Ocracoke,” Spencer said. “I don’t see how it’s fair.”
addition to monitoring the vendors’ usage of the priority passes,
workers at the ferry docks are logging residents’ use of the
just record keeping,” Hass said.
to a press release from the Ferry Division, applications can be found
on the Ferry Division’s website or
picked up at the Hatteras Ferry Terminal. Completed vendor
applications will take a minimum of one week for processing.
approval, the fees can be paid by cashier’s check or money order
and the pass will be issued at the terminal. Passes may be purchased
between December and January and will expire end of applicable year.
new legislation does not affect the Ocracoke resident priority
passes, which are issued free to Ocracoke residents every three
(Reprinted with permission from
The Ocracoke Observer. For continuing coverage of the Ferry Division
situation and other news and features about Ocracoke, go to