A note from Greg Piner:
I know this must sound like “Ground Hog Day Monday” but the House Transportation Committee has House Bill 475 (No Tolls on any Ferries) on the agenda for tomorrow May 21st.
Folks have often asked what can they do to really make a difference. I feel strongly that another call or email to as many committee members as possible today, or tomorrow morning before noon will help our cause.
If HB475 passes the Transportation Committee Tuesday it then goes to Finance. We will then need to start making calls to them. A Finance Committee link is in the works.
Thanks so much for all your help. I firmly believe if it were not for your efforts we would already be paying tolls to ride our ferries.
House Bill 475 is our last chance to fend off the ferry tolls on the Minnesott-Cherry Branch and Aurora-Bayview ferries. Call the House Transportation Committee now — yes, really, now — in advance of their vote on Tuesday May 21.
You can read HB475 here, just as it was introduced in to the Legislature this spring. Here’s what it proposes: that none – zero – of the seven ferry routes in our state should be tolled.
That may seem an audacious approach… but think about it. HB475 sees ferries not as something to be tolled, but as an economic development tool for Eastern North Carolina. Make it easier – and cheaper – for people to get from point A to point B and they will go there and spend their money on tourism, shopping and other things. The state could even pull in more money through sales tax on those items and services than it could make by tolling a few ferries as is the current plan.
House Bill 475 has to be approved by the Transportation Committee on Tuesday. That’s the focus now. Or more to the point, the focus is on the members of that House Transportation Committee. Give them a call — leave a message. Or at the very least, send them an email You’ll find their phone numbers and easy email links in How You Can Help Now.
House Bill 475 was introduced this spring. A lot of what it calls for can be found in this March proposal by Oriental resident Greg Piner. After working for the past year to keep the Neuse River and Pamlico River ferries toll free, Greg came to see that no tolls on any of the state’s 7 ferry routes is the solution:
A wonderfully ironic consequence of bad legislation (and the NC General Assembly’s ferry toll legislation is really bad) is that it inspires people to work very hard to find a better solution. It forces us to question issues that we have in the past taken for granted.
For instance, this question: If ferry tolls are bad to impose on the commuter ferries, are they also bad for the three ferries already being tolled?
On the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, the ferry routes are our highways. We take them to our jobs, to school, to business appointments, doctors visits, to visit family, to run errands. Now those ferry routes — our highways — are about to become toll roads.
(You may be asking, “Is a ferry really part of a highway?” We didn’t make that up. Look at an official State of NC Highway map, and you’ll see Highway 306 at both ends of both the Cherry Branch-Minnesott and the Bayview-Aurora ferry routes.)
For decades the ferries between Cherry Branch and Minnesott on the Neuse River and between Bayview and Aurora on the Pamlico River have been free, just like all the other bridges and highways in North Carolina.