Passengers debark the Ocracoke Express on a nice July day. Photo: P. Vankevich

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More than 16,500 people left their cars behind and used the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry this summer, and surveys revealed that the third season of passenger ferry service was a popular one.

In a press release, the N.C. Ferry Division said the season, which began June 21 and ended on Labor Day, saw a total of 16,594 people use the passenger ferry service, which allowed riders to skip the vehicle ferry waits and dock in Hatteras and Ocracoke villages.

The crossing takes 65 minutes, about the same as the car ferry, which lands on the north end of the island. The fare was $5 each way, with an additional $1 charge for bicycles. Children 3 and under could ride for free.

A total of 1,020 passengers brought their bicycles along for the ride.

This season, the Ocracoke Express served an average of 213 passengers a day, more than double the 97 per day of 2020.

In its inaugural start in the summer of 2019, the Ocracoke Express carried nearly 29,000 passengers between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands during a longer season.

The passenger ferry made three daily round trips , leaving from Hatteras at 9:30 a.m. and 1 and 4:30 p.m. and from Ocracoke: 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m.

Passenger surveys taken over the 2021 season showed the service as a popular option, with 94% of respondents rating it as either “Excellent” or “Good.”

According to the press release, among the comments received, one passenger said “It’s a lovely ride, it’s easy to manage, the people are all super friendly and it could not be more convenient. It makes the whole day more enjoyable!”

The Ferry Division plans on continuing its passenger ferry service during the 2022 summer season.

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