The ferries that service several coastal communities in North Carolina are state-run ferries. Legislators ordered D.O.T. to raise fares in 2012 so as to increase revenue. This price hike was set to go into effect on April 1, 2012. However, Governor Perdue issued an overriding executive order that imposed a one-year moratorium on higher tolls. The moratorium can be overturned by the General Assembly (and probably will be) at any time. In the meantime, the moratorium gives officials a chance to devise a “fair and equitable plan” regarding these tolls, according to D.O. T. Ferry Division Communications Officer Lucy Wallace.
Exactly what does this mean for us? Some commuter ferries will most likely have to start charging tolls for the first time. Others will have to raise them. For instance, the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry (servicing the greater Wilmington/Cape Fear area) will charge $1 more per pedestrian and bicyclist. Motorcyclists will pay an extra $2 and vehicles will pay $5 more, PLUS $2 per passenger.
Ferry service began in the 1920s when Tugboat Captain Toby Tillett initiated service along the Outer Banks. Nowadays, ferries shuttle vehicles and passengers across Cape Fear River, Neuse River, Pamlico River, Currituck Sound, and Pamlico Sound.
Currently, there are seven routes with twenty-one ferries in service. These ferries transport more than one million vehicles and 2.5 million passengers each year.
The D.O.T. ferry division employs more than 400 workers. They have their own shipyard and support vessels.
For more on the ferry system, including schedules and fees, visit www.ferry.ncdot.gov