The North Carolina Department of Transportation operates the second largest state-owned ferry system in the United States. Its 21 ferry vessels serve seven routes, operate over 200 sailings daily, and transport more than 1.1 million vehicles and 2.5 million passengers annually. The North Carolina Ferry System (NCFS) is facing several challenges in recent years that have impacted the coastal communities. Recent U.S. Coast Guard regulations increasing the minimum crew size on vessels carrying over 149 passengers will require the NCFS to add 79 employees. Difficulty in finding additional funds and certified crew to meet these regulations, coupled with reductions in NCFS financial allocations from state budget cuts resulted in a reduced number of ferry sailings on some routes during the peak operations period in summer 2009. However, these resource and operations challenges present an opportunity to analyze existing ferry operations, and to develop optimal scenarios to maximize the efficiency of the ferry system. The goal for this project was to analyze available data in order to provide the NCFS with recommendations to optimize its current resources, as well as to explore future opportunities.

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