Survey positive for Albemarle Sound passenger ferries

Published 1:44 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Half the respondents to a survey taken last winter say they would be very likely or likely to use the passenger ferry service envisioned for Albemarle Sound as “a fun, nice way to visit, vacation and travel in the sound.”

The 487 survey respondents come from the primary geographic market region for Outer Banks tourists and visitors.

The survey results were published recently by Professor Nicholas Didaw of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill, a primary visionary and sponsor of the proposed ferry service.

Didow described the project to survey recipients as follows: “There is a plan under consideration to put several high-speed catamaran passenger ferries on the Albemarle Sound in northeastern North Carolina to connect the five waterfront towns of Edenton, Hertford, Plymouth, Columbia, and Elizabeth City and the town of Manteo on the Outer Banks with passenger ferry service.

“The towns are about 30 minutes to an hour from each other by ferry, and the ferries would depart from each town hourly throughout the day. You could hop on and off with unlimited ridership to visit any or all of the towns and ride the ferries all day.”

Half the respondents said they were likely to use the service whether the price is to be $10 or $20 per person/day.

A profile of the respondents most likely to use the ferry service shows that 65% of them have lived, worked, or vacationed in North Carolina before, 44% on the Outer Banks, and 14% in the Inner Banks. Fifty-five percent of the positive respondents are female, and median age of positive respondents is 45-54, and the median annual household income is $50,000 to $74,999.

Professor Didow is seeking federal and state grants to purchase and operate the ferries, which he has estimated at $14 million for the first year.

Biggest drawback voiced by Columbia aldermen so far is the unknown cost of constructing or modifying waterfront dockage on the Scuppernong River to accommodate the ferries.