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Ways for summer day trippers to avoid waiting in line

On the Hatteras ferry.

On the Hatteras ferry.

Since the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry System switched to its full summer schedule of 36 daily round-trip departures between Hatteras and Ocracoke, it is calling on summer day trippers to strongly consider going as early in the day as possible to avoid wait times in the peak season.

“We’ve always suggested visitors try to avoid the peak times of the day when traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke,” said Ferry Division Communications Officer Tim Hass. “This year, we’re coming right out and saying it: The best way to get out of ferry lines is to travel early, travel late, or travel between Friday and Monday. We have years of data to back that up.”

That data shows that, in general, there are no waits at Hatteras before 9 a.m., with lines starting to form around 10 a.m.  Peak travel time is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lines generally dissipating by 4 p.m.

On the Ocracoke side, there is usually no waiting before 2 p.m. Cars begin to stack up by 3 p.m. and lines are the longest between 6 to 7 p.m. By 9 p.m., those lines are usually gone.

“By adjusting their schedule just a little, travelers can spend less time in a ferry line and more time on Ocracoke, and that’s what vacation should be about,” said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin about traveling to Ocracoke. 

The Ferry System has created a web page here with more information, and will be encouraging off-peak travel all summer via advertising and social media.