Hatteras-Ocracoke passenger ferry launches Monday, and you can ride for free

The Martha’s Vineyard Express stopped for fuel at Coinjock Marina on Mother’s Day enroute to Hatteras. [Sam Walker]

Starting Monday, people traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke Village will have a new travel option. In addition to the car ferries that already serve the popular route, visitors will have the Ocracoke Express passenger-only ferry as an option.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this service between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages,” said the state’s Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “It will give summer travelers a quicker, wait-free, stress-free transportation option between the two islands, and provide a big boost to the local tourist economy.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division announced Friday that after two free preview days on Monday, May 20 and Tuesday, May 21, the passenger ferry service will run seven days a week from May 22 through Sept. 5.

The division is leasing the ferry, the M/V Martha’s Vineyard Express, from the New Jersey-based ferry company Seastreak Marine. This week, the vessel successfully completed test runs of the route in the Pamlico Sound between the two Outer Banks islands.

The ferry will make three round trips daily through the summer, departing from the Hatteras terminal at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., and departing the Ocracoke Silver Lake Terminal at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. A one-way trip takes approximately 70 minutes.

On May 20-21, the ferry service will be free as a preview to passengers. An initial cost of $1 each way will begin May 22. There will be no extra charge for bicycles.

Passengers who would like to walk on to the passenger ferry should proceed to the Hatteras Terminal at least 20 minutes before departure time. When reservations become available at a later date, they can be made online at www.ncferry.org or by calling 1-800-BY-FERRY (1-800-293-3779).

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.