The North Carolina (NC) Ferry system is a critical form of both essential and recreational transportation for millions of NC residents and visitors from around the world. At the same time, the ferry system faces challenges such as declining ridership, keeping pace with evolving technology, operations affected by extreme weather events, and lack of sustainable funding sources. The ferry system infrastructure in some places is not fully or efficiently utilized. For example, while all ferries allow walk-on passengers, many are oriented to vehicle transport, which does not maximize passenger occupancy. None of the current ferry terminals loffer public transit service and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is limited in many locations.
Prior studies have examined NC ferry operations and made recommendations regarding the ways in which future passenger ferries can enhance ridership and improve operations, including by building connections to existing shuttle terminals and extending transit services. But these studies have been oriented to tourism and existing business owner interests and do not fully account for the broader community goals related to economic opportunities, health, and transportation access; nor do they account for the unique needs of marginalized populations.
In this project, our transdisciplinary team will investigate ways in which innovations related to walking, bicycling, and micromobility, transit operations, and MOD services may be employed to support NCDOT's work to ensure that transportation projects provide far-reaching and equitable benefits to communities, the economy, and the quality of life and health of North Carolinians. We will integrate a broad set of data about community transportation needs and multimodal connectivity options to develop a robust analysis to support short and long-term planning for ferry access and multimodal connectivity. This documentation of literature, stakeholder input, and new analysis will be supportive of decision-making at both the project and policy level regarding ferry integration with multimodal infrastructure and services and identify approaches that could leverage Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds, Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funds, and other funding sources.