Bill would eliminate all ferry tolls

ferry fee update

Drivers exit the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry after a trip across the Neuse River.

Havelock News file photo
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 03:43 PM.

The movement against ferry tolls gained statewide momentum Thursday with the introduction of identical state House and Senate bills in the General Assembly that would eliminate tolls on all of the seven coastal routes.

The bills, including the Senate bill co-authored by Rep. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, would authorize the ferry division to raise its revenue level to replace tolls. Under the current legislative mandate, new and increased tolls would go into place July 1, including first-time fees to ride the Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch and Aurora-Bayview ferries.

Revenue sources would include selling concessions, wireless internet service, naming rights to ferries boats, routes, and buildings, and other individual advertising opportunities.

Sanderson said that taking tolls off all the ferries would help commuter riders such as those in Pamlico County and also encourage more tourism for routes that traditionally carry visitors to the coastal areas.

Sanderson said he had talked with ferry system officials about cutting expenses to make up the mandated $5 million the General Assembly wants the ferry division to add to its revenues each year.

“There are better ways to raise money than tax our overburdened citizens,” Sanderson said. “Ferries offer scenic trips across coastal waters, punctuated by the friendly brogue of ferry workers. We should promote our coast, not tax ourselves.”

Sanderson and the other lawmakers waited to file the bills, hoping that the tolls would be left out of Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget.

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