Cape May - Lewes Ferry Traffic Rises for Second Consecutive Year
Registers Back-to-Back Yearly Increase for First Time in more than Fifteen Years
(North Cape May, NJ) Today, Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) officials announced that the Cape May – Lewes Ferry recorded its second consecutive year of passenger and vehicle traffic growth in 2015. In 2015, the ferry service transported 266,149 vehicles and 782,241 passengers compared to 262,010 vehicles and 767,209 passengers who used the Delaware Bay service in 2014. The vehicle and passenger numbers have increased nearly 4% and more than 5% respectively since 2013.
“We’re pleased with the news and I want to thank our customers for their loyalty and willingness to travel with us,” said Heath Gehrke, Director of Ferry Operations. “Our employees are focused on ‘WOWing’ our customers’ every day.”
For four consecutive years, the Cape May – Lewes Ferry has earned TripAdvisors Certificate of Excellence and the operation is also rated extremely high on the popular social media site YELP. Ferry customers also regularly recognize the high level of customer service at the Delaware Bay operation on its Facebook and other social media sites.
Gehrke was particularly pleased with 2015 results. “Last year, we canceled some 32 crossings due to severe ice conditions in the Delaware Bay,” Gehrke said. “With that, and higher traffic in 2014 due to our 50th Anniversary, we knew it would be a challenge to beat our year-over year numbers. The results are a testament to our employees’ hard work and dedication.” And regarding next year’s ridership goals Gehrke says, “I’ve been told that two years is a pattern and three is a trend. We’re focused on setting a trend.”
“The Cape May- Lewes Ferry continues to enhance traveler’s awareness of Lewes and the many historic and nature based tourism experiences available here,” said Lewes Mayor Ted Becker. “These travelers’ visits to Lewes have a very positive impact on the local economy. We look forward to continuing to work with the DRBA to provide even more opportunities for ferry travelers during the 2016 season.”
In Cape May County, N.J., Freeholder Will Morey praised the Authority for the most recent statistics. "The increased traffic is a welcome sign," Morey said, "and the numbers reflect the great talent and enthusiasm with which DRBA staff perform their jobs."
According to Rhona Bronson, Director of Marketing, the Ferry’s digital marketing efforts were also a factor. “Travel and hospitality marketing is increasingly digital as customers go to mobile and online sources for research and self-serve booking. Through a variety of digital tools we have developed channels that reach close to a quarter million customers with ideas for visiting the bay and using the ferry to enrich their experience.”
Bronson added, “As many people who love the freedom of digital travel planning, more still prefer the personal touch where they can get a question answered. We have an amazing group of front line people on the boats and in our Guest Services group who are true area specialists and enjoy interacting with the traveling public daily.” It was through feedback customers directly gave to these team members that led the Ferry to test and expand new market opportunities in 2015 such as biker only boats for special motorcycle rally events, a Sunday US Coast Guard brunch on Mother’s Day as part of the county’s US Coast Guard festival and the bi-state Brews-by-the-Bay craft beer festival. Bronson noted that the Ferry is also working closely with officials in both Sussex County, DE and Cape May County, NJ to boost bicycle traffic in the Twin Capes region.
The new Gordon’s Pond Trail extension in southern Delaware, which opened in Cape Henlopen State Park in June 2014, links to the existing Junction and Breakwater Trail, completing a scenic 15-mile bicycle loop between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach that is beautiful and family-friendly. At the same time officials in Cape May County are working to connect existing bicycle paths in Lower Township and Middle Township that will create a route from the Ferry to the Cape May County Zoo, already one of the most popular destinations for ferry passengers and one of the top rated Zoos in the country. Bicycling is popular on both sides of the Delaware Bay. The League of American Bicyclists ranked Delaware 3rd in the 2015 Bicycle Friendly State “Report Card” while New Jersey placed 11th.
Ferry service officials also attributed the ridership increase to a recovering economy coupled with lower gas prices, greater awareness of ferries as a travel option, and favorable weather conditions late in the season.
About the Cape May-Lewes Ferry
The Cape May – Lewes Ferry is owned and operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority, a bi-state governmental agency created by Compact in 1962. The Ferry is open year-round and has carried more than 43 million passengers since its inception on July 1, 1964. In 2015, the ferry service, which connects Victorian Cape May, New Jersey, and historic Lewes, Delaware, transported approximately 275,000 vehicles and nearly 1 million passengers. For schedule, rates and other program information, please visit the ferry’s website at www.CMLF.com, or call toll free, 800-643-3779. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CMLFerry.
PDF of Press Release
MV Delaware Arriving at Cape May