What You Should Know

  • House Bill 475. That’s the bill that will stop the tolls coming to the Neuse and Pamlico River ferries. It is a simple concept: don’t charge tolls on any of the 7 ferry routes in NC. That gets rid of the tension over a some-pay, some-don’t system. It also looks at the ferries as an economic development tool for Eastern NC. WIth free ferries, more people would visit our part of the state — the state taxes levied on their spending in restaurants, lodging, shopping, would do more for the economy than the 3 million dollars the state would take in the current ferry taxing plan.
  • House Bill 475l has to be approved by the full House by May 16, 2013. That’s the so-called “Crossover” deadline for bills to be approved in one chamber in order to move on to the other.) Want to help make this happen? Check out our How You Can Help section.
  • While House Bill 475 introduces a new set of reasons for keeping the tolls off of our ferries, there are, of course, these bedrock reasons :
  • The ferry routes are our highways. They are our bridges. Our ferries are not luxuries. They take people to work and school and doctors appointments and to the things other North Carolinians do in everyday life.
  • Maps show Highway 306 on both sides of the Neuse River – AND – in the middle of the river along the ferry route. The ferry route is a highway. A North Carolina statute —GS 136-89.187 — says tolls can’t be applied to state highways without approval of a local Rural Planning Organization. They haven’t done that.
  • The ferry system is financed with NC DOT highway money that Pamlico County residents already pay by way of the gas tax. To put a toll on top of that is double taxation.
  • When the Legislature was slipping this mandate in to the budget in 2011, citizens were not invited to speak at the legislature about the impact a toll would have. As a result, lawmakers may not have been aware of how much the commuter ferries are part of everyday life here, for bridging the outer reaches of the state, for carrying not only tourists who fuel an economy but residents who take the ferry to work, to school, to do the things all other residents of NC do when they cross a bridge. Residents in this region rely on their ferries just as other North Carolinians rely on their Beltlines and expensively-made mountain passes and bridges over rivers.
  • The DOT’s statistics show that 91% of the vehicles on the Minnesott-Cherry Branch Ferry in 2011 had NC license plates. On the Aurora-Bayview ferry 98% of the license plates were from NC. That means that most of the people who rode those ferry routes are NC residents who already pay highway taxes. As mentioned, the toll will be double taxation.
  • By comparison, the Budget (HB 200) approved by the Legislature in 2011 mandated that the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry remain a free ferry. DOT statistics show the majority of that ferry route’s passengers had out-of-state plates. By keeping the Hatteras-Ocracoke route free, and charging tolls on the ferries serving Pamlico County’s commuters, the Legislature is forcing working North Carolinians to subsidize tourists. Can that be what the Legislature intended? Shouldn’t the working commuter ferry routes serving Pamlico County be toll-free just like the Hatteras-Ocracoke route?
    Ferry Facts By The Numbers

500
The number of people who attended the Ferry Toll Meeting at Pamlico Community College on February 15th, 2012 about 4% of our county’s population.

36,279
The number of people if 4% of Wake County residents attended a similar meeting.

250,025
The number of cars that rode the Cherry Branch ferries in 2011.

58,400,000
The number of cars that traveled the section of I-40 by the RDU airport in 2011.

$1,000,100
Revenue generated if each car that rode the Cherry Branch ferry in 2011 had paid a $4 toll.

$233,600,000
Revenue generated if each car that traveled the section of I-40 by the RDU airport in 2011 had paid a $4 toll.

$200
About what you will be taxed per year if you make two round trips each month on the Cherry Branch-Minnesott ferry route.

$1.3 Billion
Revenue generated if each person in the state had his or her highway tax increased by $200 per year.

$2.00
Cost per mile for the Cherry Branch ferry toll on a vehicle 20 feet or under.

15 cents
Cost per mile for the toll on the new section of I-540 that opened in Raleigh in 2011.