By Jennifer McGraw

SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) – Every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, the Real McCoy ferry runs on a schedule. But if you don’t make it you’ll have to wait, and some homeowners are fed up.

“You can’t get anywhere on time. You’re either going to be early, or you’re going to be late,” said Betty Sutherland.

Betty and Bob Sutherland live on Ryer Island near Rio Vista, they need the ferry to go just about anywhere.

“That’s the only way to go unless you want to go the hour and a half around,” she said.

The Real McCoy began transporting cars in 1945 and is now one of only two ferry boats still operated by Caltrans in the entire state.

Each day cars line up to take the two-minute trip. It’s route, a mere 800 feet across the Cache Slough as part of a state highway.

It used to run around the clock.

“That’s Highway 84, so I don’t understand why they can shut down a highway every 20 minutes,” Betty said.

A Caltrans spokesman said it switched from “on demand” service to save on costs. This way it burns less fuel, and it’s less wear and tear on the boat.

“It’s more efficient for the state and for the taxpayers,” said Vince Jacala with Caltrans.

However, homeowners aren’t buying into that.

“It may be saving the state money but not me. All it’s giving me is an inconvenience,” Bob Sutherland said.

Before the first Real McCoy ferry retired in 2011, the ferry took drivers as often as they came.

“When we did buy out here the little ferry ran on demand, so that wasn’t the issue. The new ferry is when it became the issue,” Betty said.

Plus they feel it’s unreliable.

“Time after time after time after time, they fix it, and it breaks again,” Bob added

We did some digging. It turns out the Real McCoy II was out of service for maintenance or emergency repairs 18 days in January and two days so far this month.

“Once we fix it and get all the parts we still have to get approval from the coast guard to put the boat in the water,” said Jacala.

Caltrans said there’s no way over it either.

“If we built a bridge the costs would be astronomical, and at this point, engineers aren’t sure if we could build a bridge in those areas,” he said.

Between being a tourist attraction in the summer and a yearlong road for farmers, homeowners hope the schedule returns ship shape.

“I’d like it to run on demand,” Bob said.

Till then, they’ll have to run on ferry time.

  1. Why doesn’t someone start their own ferry service? A for profit ferry service could be a serious moneymaker.

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