Friday, March 18, 2011


Ocracoke and ferries have been in the news lately. You may have heard reports about a proposal to establish tolls for the Hatteras Inlet ferries. A public meeting was held Wednesday night at the Ocracoke Community Center. There was standing room only. This is what I learned:

There has been no decision by the NC DOT Ferry Division or the state legislature. However, a proposal has been made to charge $10 for one way passage at Hatteras Inlet...or $100 for a monthly pass. As our readers might imagine, there is widespread opposition to this plan among Ocracoke islanders. Speakers cited many issues, including impact on tourism, impact on island residents, and impact on tax revenue generated by Ocracoke Island businesses.

Efforts are under way to partner with surrounding counties, and to communicate islanders' concerns to the legislature.

We will keep our readers updated as more information becomes available.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of a 1911 wedding on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:11 AM

    When in Ocracoke, I would take the ferry back to Hatteras and the kids and I would spend the day visiting and shopping along Hwy 12. I wouldn't be opposed to paying $10 to get to Ocracoke, but a trip up the beach during our stay probably wouldn't be happening.

    As far as residents paying a ferry fee? I don't think that's a good idea. I think that should come out of your already high property taxes.

  2. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I agree w/ Anon...often I have felt non-residents (tourists) should pay a few bucks to go across the inlet to Hatteras. Afterall, there is a $15 charge (min.) to use the ferry across both Cedar Island and Swan Quarter and frankly, I think that is a very inexpensive rate for visitors to pay for that particular two plus hours ferry ride. Perhaps $2 to $5 round-trip or one-way fee for non-residents (tourists) to board the Hatteras ferry would be fair and would earn enough revenue to off-set rising expenses.

    I truly believe that most visitors traveling to Ocracoke (not workers or residents, but tourists) would be able to pay the $2 to $5 one way or perhaps round-trip fare to travel to Hatteras/Ocracoke.

    I can understand the concern from Ocracoke residents, vendors and employees and I agree, these people should be exempt from a fare fee, but I think the rest of us, who are truly tourists, should do our part and pay a small fare to travel from Hatteras to Ocracoke, etc.

    I would rather pay a small fee as a tourist than have the number of trips back and forth across the inlet decreased, which would create longer lines and wait times to board the Hatteras/Ocracoke ferry.

  3. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Perhaps it is all a psychological trick: They announce plans to charge $10 or $100 per month. Everyone responds with an overwhelming "NO!" Then, after a few months of "studies" (which some consulting firm does and charges 3.5 million dollars...haha) the state announces a fare of $2 per car and no charge for residents. In the end the residents are relieved they don't have to pay, and the general public accepts the fee, remembering it could have been $10. Then after we have all accepted the fees they go up slightly over the years.

    Just your good old tax collecting government at work. That's why I hate "BIG" government. We could operate the ferry system for free if we didn't have so much fraud and waste in other areas of the government.

    Thanks for keeping us informed Philip!

  4. claragilbert1:24 PM

    I fee of $2.00 to $9.00 would be fair. after all,fuel costs are rising, and it is very fair.. think of it as a cost of a cup of coffee. I want NCDOT to be safe and employ fellow NC hard working people.

  5. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I've never understood the logic of the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries charging $15 each way (SQ) and the Hatteras ferry charging absolutely nothing.
    I think maybe it should be about $2.50 (1/6 of the SQ since it takes about 1/6 the time) and local residents should get a free pass, but I'm pretty sure the diesel those boats run on isn't donated to the state, or paid for by out of state tourists like me.

  6. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Hey, if they wanted to charge $25 per car, and it meant less crowds on the island, I'd be all for it. However, I know that my idea is selfish and would be hard on the island's economy and the local business.

  7. Anonymous4:52 PM

    My thoughts are much like what others have said. I personally think $10 is too much. If I was staying in the Hatteras area, I would definitely think twice about a day trip to Ocracoke, even though I love the place. And going the other way, if staying on Ocracoke, I would be way less likely to take a day trip back to Hatteras. However, I think $2-5 would be a fair price. Higher is probably fair, but it would tend to kill the economy that has thrived under the price of $0.

  8. Debbie Leonard10:34 PM

    I too think $10.00 is too much. When I stay at Ocracoke I wouldn't be likely to take any trips up the Outer Banks (ie, spend any money at those businesses) and I definitely think it would hurt day travelers to the island.

  9. Anonymous3:25 PM

    people in europe pay more than 10 dollars a liter for petrol. Americans are not willing to pay the true cost of gasoline. The fare is also a convenience one don't have to own a boat to get around. 10 dollars could be a cab fare ---transportation has a price this is not the city bus .

    perhaps everyone could become a LLC and then write the ferry costs off as a business exspence

  10. debbie s.4:39 PM

    the problem is, that if they DO allow a charge for the hatteras ferry, they will be breaking a state law (not that that would be the first time....sigh...) State law mandates at least ONE toll free road for free, easy and clear access (paraphrased)

  11. debbie s.4:40 PM

    source coming, let me find it... (i type faster than i think sometimes ;)

  12. Anonymous4:48 PM

    As in the past, government officials pay more attention to their own immediate needs and not think of the "little guy" and the long term - charging fees will hurt individuals heading in both directions on the Hatteres Ferry.

    The day they start charging fees to go between Hatteres and Ocracoke is probably the day I stop visiting the beautiful island of Ocracoke. The state already gets plenty of money in taxes - as someone stated early, the officials needs to start trimming their own spending

  13. debbie s.4:50 PM

    phillip, i submitted a post detailing state laws that should prevent this, if it didnt come through (might be caught in post limbo for the time being), let me know and i can resend it - just dont want to if its still in the pipeline somewhere ;)

  14. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Lets hope that this is NC DOT's "Closing the Washington Monument" Strategy for budget discussions. This idea is a bad idea and terrible public policy.There are ferries because historically they have been cheaper and more environmentally friendly than bridges. To charge even a small fee for going to and from Ocracoke sets a frightful standard for communities all across the state. Imagine every time DOT wants to build something new and expensive they decide to charge for using it, be it a traffic light or a superhighway intersection.
    That is why the laws that are on the books clearly bar this sort of adventure.

  15. Anonymous8:04 PM

    Keep this in mind as well... I heard on the radio this morning that the City of Chesapeake, VA just approved a rate increase for the Chesapeake Expressway toll road at the VA/NC border. It's currently $2 each way, and the proposal is for $3 on weekdays and $6 on weekends. This would obviously affect a majority of Ocracoke and OBX visitors coming from the North.

    This, along with a ferry fee, are not in themselves particularly objectionable, but these things do start to eventually add up. I suspect this would particularly hinder day-trippers.

    Living in Hampton Roads, I like to visit the OBX (including Ocracoke) occasionally on weekends, but having to add an additional $20-$30 in tolls will make it difficult.

  16. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Last year, our family visited Ocracoke Island 3x's during the week we were staying at Hatteres/Frisco area. We definitely would not be visiting the island as much at a cost of $10 for each trip. The ferry trip should either remain free or charge a couple of bucks but not $10.00.

  17. Phil can you post these for people interested in helping fight the ferry toll:!/NO2theferrytoll
    we need help

  18. Please see my afternoon post on Monday, May 16, 2011.

    Thanks for the heads up!