Island Express Ferry Service is Awarded Passenger Ferry Contract from Beaufort and Harkers Island to the Seashore
Contact: Wouter Ketel, 252-728-2250 ext. 3005
HARKERS ISLAND, NC – The National Park Service has awarded Island Express Ferry Service the contract to provide passenger ferry service to all of Shackleford Banks and the Cape Lookout area of South Core Banks, starting in 2014. The ferries will depart from the Town of Beaufort and Harkers Island.
“NPS is very pleased to award Island Express Ferry Service the contract, and we are looking forward to a long-term productive relationship for providing exemplary service to park visitors,” noted Superintendent Pat Kenney.
“We are very excited to be awarded the National Park Service ferry contract,” stated Captain George Aswad, managing owner of the Island Express Ferry Service. “We are looking forward to providing park visitors with great service while facilitating visitor understanding and appreciation for the park.” Island Express Ferry Service is a Beaufort based company that has many years of experience in operating ferries and marine tours.
The NPS is would like to especially acknowledge our partnership with the Town of Beaufort for providing the Beaufort Ferry Gateway; the gateway will be located at the Beaufort Town Hall located on Front Street. “We are looking forward to having the National Park Service in the Town of Beaufort,” stated Charlie Burgess, Town Manager. “The ferries departing from Beaufort will provide long-term economic benefits to the Town.” The gateway will include a Visitor Information Center located in the Beaufort Town Hall with exhibits about the park; restrooms accessible docks, outdoor exhibits and there will be flexible parking arrangements for ferry passengers.
At the Harkers Island Visitor Center, the NPS is making progress on facility improvements. These facilities include: accessible docks, a shade shelter, outdoor exhibits on the park and a ferry ticket booth. Future planned improvements include: increased parking and improved connections to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center and the park’s picnic area.
Bill Rogerson, Board Chairman of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, noted: “Having the ferries departing from Shell Point, in close proximity to the Museum, will bring additional visitors to the Museum which will significantly enhance our ability to share the heritage of the Down East communities.”
The NPS requested proposals for the ferry service contract in February 2013 and bids for the contract were evaluated by an independent panel during July of 2013. This panel determined that Island Express had the best overall proposal. The panel’s recommendation for award of the contract was approved by NPS Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin on September 30, 2013.
The purpose of managing ferry service through a contract is to insure long-term continuity of the ferry service, a consistently high level of services that are specified and reviewed by the NPS, and to help visitors understand the significances of the Park. NPS decisions for managing ferry service, choosing a Ferry Gateway Departure Site, partnering with the Town of Beaufort, and for establishing a service level for the ferry, were part of a series of planning efforts that provided multiple opportunities for public input since 2007.