The Outer Banks will have its first passenger-only ferry next spring. The State Department of Transportation has signed a contract for a catamaran vessel that will carry up to 98 passengers from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island.
Tim Hass, communications officers with the North Carolina Ferry Division, said the new ferry will lessen long waits for the car ferries that currently take travelers to the island.
“That would get more people onto the island and help improve the economy there, while at the same time lessening the lines,” he said. “This is a win for the day-trippers who want to spend a day at Ocracoke and this is also a win for the people who want to drive and perhaps explore the northern end of the island or anything like that.”
The $4.15 million ferry contract was paid for in large part by a federal lands access program grant.
Hass said the ferry will be specifically aimed at people who are staying on Hatteras Island or who are perhaps in the northern Outer Banks -- Nags Head, Kitty Hawk -- who want to go to Ocracoke for the day.
“They'll be able to make a reservation on this passenger ferry, know when they're going, know when they're coming back, and be dropped right in the heart of Ocracoke Village,” he said.
There are no highways that connect Ocracoke to other islands or the mainland. Right now, the car ferries are the only way to access the island. Passengers on new catamaran-style vessel will also be able to bring bicycles with them to help get around the island.
The contract was paid for in large part by a federal land access program grant, to help more people access the national seashore.
The ferry will go out into the sound and back in about one hour, Hass said.