The N.C. Department of Transportation says ridership on the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry is already near the numbers during the inaugural season in 2019.
And ridership has hit that level despite this being the first season of a smaller, state-owned vessel making the runs between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
According to a news release, the 129-person vessel has transported 10,063 people this May and June. During the same period in 2019, 10,152 passengers made the trip between Hatteras Harbor and Silver Lake.
“People are ready to travel this season, and they’re discovering that the Ocracoke Express is the easiest and quickest way to go on a day trip between Hatteras and Ocracoke,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas.
The numbers are made more impressive by the fact that the new state-owned Ocracoke Express has a smaller capacity than the leased boat used during the service’s first three seasons. The vessel used from 2019-2021 had a capacity of 149 people, while the new boat carries 129 people.
The Ocracoke Express passenger ferry departs from Hatteras ferry terminal at 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Departures from Ocracoke Silver Lake Terminal are scheduled for 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The trip through the Pamlico Sound takes 70 minutes.
A round-trip fare is $10 per person. Children 3 and under ride free. There is also a $1 charge for a bicycle.
Riders can then use a free tram operated by Hyde County to visit Ocracoke village’s to shops, restaurants, accommodations and attractions. Public transportation to the Ocracoke beaches is not provided. Bikes and golf carts are also available for rental near the ferry terminal.
The passenger ferry service supplements the popular Hatteras Inlet vehicle ferries, which continue to run free-of-charge between Hatteras village and the north end of Ocracoke Island.
Advance reservations for the Ocraocke Express are available online at www.ncferry.org or by phone at 1-800-BY-FERRY.
To take the Ocracoke Express without a reservation, check in no later than 20 minutes before departure time at the terminal. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.