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RIO VISTA, CA - A new fixed schedule for the ferry connecting Rio Vista and Ryer Island is drawing complaints from regular Delta travelers.

The $4.2 million Real McCoy II is back in service after a nearly six-month forced hiatus because of mechanical problems,but is now crossing Cache Slough just three times an hour.

Bob Peterson of Rio Vista was fuming in line ina pickup truck while the ferry sat idle on the opposite side of the slough.

"They're just twiddling their thumbs and we're paying for it," Peterson said.

For decades, the 800-foot crossing was made any time a vehicle was waiting.

Aggravation turned to outrage over the weekend when a mechanical problem with the nearby Rio Vista Bridge led hundreds of travelersseeking a detour on the ferry.

"You could see cars (in line) a quarter of a mile from the ferry waiting to get on," said Scott Kauffman, owner of Ryer Island's Hidden Harbor Marina."At the end of every run they'd be over there for seven to ten minutes while horns honked."

At eight cars per crossing, the Real McCoy II can carry just 24 an hour each way on the fixed schedule.

Kauffman believes the ferry could have doubled the capacity if it had run nonstop during the bridge closure.

Kauffman hopes Caltrans will relax the fixed schedule the next time there's a problem with the bridge, but that appears unlikely.

Caltrans spokesman Robert Haus said the new operational agreement with the US Coast Guard allows no more than three crossings per hour with the only exception being made for emergency vehicles.

"The schedule allows Caltrans to continue to provide 24 hour service on a fixed and reliable schedule, much like the practice of transit providers," Haus said. "The fixed schedule benefits the operations with lowered emissions and less wear and tear to the systems. And it benefits taxpayers with reduced fuel and repair costs."

by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net

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