By Peter Vankevich

An effort to charge $150 for priority boarding passes on all North Carolina ferries is back into the NC General Assembly budget debate and is included in the recently passed Senate’s version of the state budget. Additionally the Senate version includes initiating a request to determine business interest in privatizing the NC ferry system.

The Senate passed their version of the yearly budget which was supported by Ocracoke’s representative in the Senate, Bill Cook (R-Beaufort).

On page 423, it includes the following: 19 SECTION 29.23B. (a) G.S. 136-82(f) is amended by adding a new subdivision to 20 read:  Issuance of annual passes to individual passengers that entitle the passengers to priority when boarding a ferry passenger vessel. The Department of Transportation shall charge an annual fee of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) for each pass issued under this subdivision. The fee shall be in addition to any applicable ferry toll. In addition to the purposes set forth in this subsection, proceeds from fees collected under this subdivision may be used for operating expenses of the route in which the fee was collected. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department of Transportation shall not provide free of charge annual passes to individual passengers that entitle the passengers to priority when boarding a ferry passenger vessel.”

Senator Cooke’s press release on the passage of this bill (click here) does not mention this priority fee provision.

The House had the first pass this year on the budget and did theirs first and it did not include the fee for priority passes.  The House’s budget is $22.1 billion and the Senate’s is $21.5 billion.

Now they have to hammer out the differences, which may not be done until sometime this summer.

Here is contact information for Ocracoke’s General Assembly representatives:

Rep. Paul Tine:
(919) 733-5906
529 Legislative Office Building
300 N Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Senator Bill Cook: (919) 715-8293
300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 525
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925

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  1. And just who will be eligible for these “priority passes”? Oh, of course- we can’t discriminate against the non-resident public, so anyone may join in.
    Universal priority equals no priority.

  2. Clearly our “leaders” do not understand that the Priority Pass for Ocracoke residents is not simply a matter of convenience. It is available to us so that we can schedule appointments with some assurance of arriving on time…make travel reservations that we can most likely keep…return to the island in time for work at our jobs…in other words, come and go from our homes the same way all citizens of our state expect to do.

  3. Thank you Peter for this important news. Yes – Please flood the phones and emails. Crooks, sneaks, and Liars – they are. Please remember to act Now and vote in any and every election.

  4. And this is all because a person that lives in Brunswick county that owns 2 houses in Ocracoke is crying like a baby because he has to wait an hour to get a ferry. And any company that wants to make money…..a ferry system is a giant hole full of expenses. If the division does get privatized you can guarantee there will be some serious tolls being payed to ride the ferries.

  5. flood cooks email and office phone with messages and ask him why he did not have the nerve,for lack of useing another word to show up out here and ask the people who will be affected what they think before making such a jackass move and that is what i will be sending to him.if you don’t speak up you’ll get run over.

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