Road Worrier Blog

Senate Republicans want North Carolina’s state ferries to go private

A trio of Senate Republican leaders on transportation issues proposed in legislation filed Tuesday that North Carolina’s state-run ferries should be privately owned and operated.

“The General Assembly finds that the privatization of the North Carolina Ferry System would provide a more cost‑effective service model for the citizens of the State,” declares the bill filed by Sen. Bill Rabon, a Southport Republican who co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and the committee’s two vice chairs, Sens. Kathy Harrington of Gastonia and Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville.

The bill calls on the state Board of Transportation to issue a “request for information” to determine whether it would be cost-effective to privatize the ferries.

Rabon, Harrington and other Senate leaders have pushed repeatedly in recent years to reduce or eliminate state subsidies for the ferries. They have proposed to charge tolls on the four ferry routes that are toll-free now, and to increase rates on the three ferries where riders now pay tolls.

North Carolina operates the second-largest state ferry system in the United States. Ferry supporters argue that the vessels are essential parts of the state highway system that should be funded with money from the gas tax and other state revenues.