A bill signed by Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday has authorized funding to restart the Ocracoke-Hatteras passenger ferry service in 2020, which is slated to begin on Friday, July 3.
On Wednesday morning, the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry was docked at the Hatteras ferry terminal, and was being inspected by NCDOT personnel to ensure it will be ready for its prospective Friday launch.
The recently passed Senate Bill 750, which was initially introduced by Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan), designates $1,146,179 in funds to lease the Ocracoke Express for 2020, pending completion of a successful route verification and inspection.
Service will run until September 10, with the same departure times as 2019. The fare to cross is $5 one way, or $10 round-trip, and necessary measures and precautions will be taken in order to protect the passengers and crew from the spread of COVID-19
“In line with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 147, we will be requiring all passengers to wear face coverings while on board both inside the seating area and on the deck,” said the NCDOT via a statement that was shared on Wednesday by the Albemarle Rural Planning Organization. “We have also implemented a vessel and facility cleaning regiment with crew sign off sheets. In addition, we will be marking space out in waiting areas to ensure proper social distancing and will have hand sanitizer at the ticket windows and on board the vessels. In these challenging times, we will do our best to deliver the quality service that you all help[ed] to create last year.”
The passenger ferry was introduced in May of 2019 as a transportation alternative for people traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. More than 28,600 people used the passenger ferry last summer.
The Ocracoke Express provides a 70-minute trip between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages. Departures times for the Ocracoke Express in 2019 were at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. from Hatteras, and 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. from Ocracoke.
The free village tram service that was available in 2019 is also expected to run again, coinciding with the launch of the passenger ferry, and pending funding approval by NCDOT.
For more information, go to www.ncferry.org