(BC Ferries/Twitter)

BC Ferries has added sailings to three major routes this summer, but expects that ridership will not go back to pre-COVID-19 levels until two or three years from now.

Additional sailings were announced Monday morning for the Tsawwassen (Vancouver) – Swartz Bay (Victoria), Tsawwassen (Vancouver) – Duke Point (Nanaimo), Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) – Departure Bay (Nanaimo) and the Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) – Langdale (Sunshine Coast) routes.

Three ships will operate on the Tsawwassen—Swartz Bay route, two on the Horseshoe Bay—Departure Bay route, and one on the Horseshoe Bay—Langdale. Meanwhile the Tsawwassen—Duke Point route will continue operating with two vessels.

These additions will create 120 sailings more per week than in June, and the new summer schedules can be found on the BC Ferries website.

According to BC Ferries, adding these sailings will “exceed demand” as actual traffic is expected to remain at 50 per cent of usual capacity across the major routes.

The company expects that it will be two to three years before they reach pre-COVID levels of ridership.

However sailings at popular times this summer may still be full as BC Ferries continues to adhere to Transport Canada guidelines and remains at 50 per cent capacity.

All passengers are now required to carry a face mask or face covering while on board any ferry route longer than 30 minutes, and will be asked to put them on in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

Last week, the company also announced the resumption of some food services after they were suspended on March 19 to minimize the risks of transmission.