The National Park Service (NPS) released the proposal to consolidate the Harkers Island, Beaufort and Morehead City, NC ferries to the Cape Lookout National Seashore along with the Cape Lookout land transportation service. 2013 will be the last year that the local ferry operators will be allowed to operate using the current “commercial use permits”. The proposal was not unexpected - the park service has been discussing the possibility since the early 1990s. Bidding for the new concession will close in early summer 2013.
There are four ferry operators departing from different facilities on Harkers Island, two in Beaufort and one in Morehead City. The ferries are spread along the Crystal Coast, and have access to parking for their riders.
These ferries operate Coast Guard licensed vessels that land passengers at Cape Lookout National Seashore. When all the ferries are running, the current system can move well over 200 passengers an hour to the lighthouse and over 100 to Shackleford Banks.
The Park Service Plan:
The park service will cancel the current ferry commercial use permits, and consolidate the ferry service under one concessionaire.
The ferry boats will operate out of two terminals: one at the Cape Lookout National Seashore facility at the East end of Harkers Island, and another on the waterfront in Beaufort, NC.
The NPS Harkers Island facility will be upgraded to provide additional parking, public rest rooms and marina upgrades. At the September 20, 2012 public hearing on the project, the “Phase 1” upgrades for the Harkers location are projected at $790,000. The "Phase 2" upgrades mentioned at a hearing were substantially higher.
The local ferry service operators have been providing ferry service for many years to Cape Lookout National Seashore. Consolidating the ferry service will eliminate competition, put people out of work, close independent business, cost tax payers money to build and maintain new facilities, not improve service and may ultimately increase the cost of getting to the national seashore.
- U.S. House of Representatives
- Cape Lookout National Park Service Superintendent
- Chairman National Park Service Foundation
Mr Neil Mulholland
Stop the consolidation of the local ferry service operators. Please do not let the National Park Service put the independent ferry operators out of business that provide services to Cape Lookout National Seashore. They have been providing a valuable service for many years. Choosing one concessionaire is not good for competition and takes away our choice of who we use and how we get to the park. Spending all the proposed money to replace what is already working does not make economic sense. The money can be better spent and hopefully used to put people to work, instead of putting people out of business.
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