Raising Tolls on Sound Ferries
Posted in the Hatteras Forum
#1 Mar 14, 2013
Letter from a concerned resident of Ocracoke Island in reference to the “Session Law 2012-142 House Bill 950 directed DOT to disregard the executive order and clarified ferry tolling in Section 24.18(a) G.S. 136-82, directing DOT to collect tolls, as established by the Board of Transportation on the ferry routes.”
To the North Carolina General Assembly,
I recently attended a public meeting held on Ocracoke Island, on March 13, 2013, with about one hundred other concerned citizens. We all listened to the representatives litany and presentation, and heard from several local citizens, to include the Hyde County Manager, the leader of the county’s board of education, and two lobbiests from Pamlico County. Many valid points were made.
The community heard a story about a legislator in the Charlotte area who made the comment,“Look at all those million dollar homes on Ocracoke, they can afford to pay higher ferry tolls.”
Well sirs, the truth of the matter is that most of those large expensive homes are owned by out of towners, as rentals. And most likely some of those are from the Charlotte Area. The average income of an Ocracoke resident is in the low $20,000 range,(Hyde County being one of the poorest counties in North Carolina), a point that I am willing to bet was never considered when they did the surveys comparing North Carolina’s ferry system to those across the country. With the high cost of living and extreme property taxes, Ocracoke is in no way on par with the rest of the state.
The long and short of it is, that raising the tolls, specially to the extremes that are being set forth will not only lose the state money, but it would be devastating to the livelihood of the community of Ocracoke Island as well as most of the surrounding areas that are impacted by the traffic flow to Ocracoke . The largest percentage of the ferry ridership is tourist based, most of which are known as day trippers and the remainder come to stay for either the week or in most cases a weekend.
The cost of rentals on Ocracoke is so high that to be able to afford it most are rented by multi-family groups. And they usually have their vacations budgeted out so that they can do some shopping and maybe eat out at least once. By raising the tolls you are making it so that travelers won’t be able to enjoy all that Ocracoke has to offer, and they will change their plans to go somewhere else.
Example: A three bedroom house can cost as much as $4000 a week or $2500 per weekend. At this time, if a group of three families were to use the ferries they would pay $90 round trip, driving single size vehicles. Using your model, just three single vehicles alone would cost $162. Then they would also have to pay $5 dollars per person in multi passenger vehicles. If there were four passengers per vehicle this would be a total of $60 extra. This would change their ferry trip from the original $90 to $222 round trip.
This much extra increase in cost would make most travelers feel they have to change their plans and travel to one of the other vacations spots in North Carolina.
In my opinion, the State of North Carolina would make much more in revenue if they discontinued tolling altogether. Day trippers would increase. The cost the traveling public would save would most likely be funneled back into the local economy. The state would get more sales tax from fuel sales, as well as giftshops, general stores and restaurants.
Please reconsider, and vote no to ferry tolling, or at the least not to increase them so drastically.
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