BC Ferries announced today it is implementing additional sailings on the major routes for the duration of the summer period.
There will be increased service on the routes from Tsawwassen Ferry terminal in Metro Vancouver to the Vancouver Island terminals of Swartz Bay and Duke Point. Three ships will operate on the major Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route, and two ships will run on the Tsawwassen to Duke Point route.
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Service increases are also being rolled out for the routes from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay and Sunshine Coast’s Langdale terminals. Two ships will run on the Horseshoe Bay to Departure route, while one ship will operate on the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale route.
All of the sailing increases will total approximately 120 more sailings a week than in June.
Earlier this month, BC Ferries reached a deal with the provincial government on a plan that gradually reintroduces services and allows the ferry corporation to meet the expected increase in demand, especially for the major routes.
Currently, ferry traffic has increased to 50% of its normal levels on the major routes — up from the pandemic low of 20% of normal levels experienced in April. BC Ferries said it will take two to three years for traffic volumes to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
With the additional sailings, the capacity moving forward is expected to exceed summer demand by an average of 20%. However, the ferry corporation warns that sailings at popular times may still be full, given that the 50% vessel passenger capacity supporting physical distancing is still in effect.
Following Transport Canada regulations, BC Ferries is mandating all passengers wear a face mask or covering onboard the vessel.
Last week, it announced that hot food and beverage services are returning to select major routes on its network.
BC Ferries is also restoring service levels to the Southern Gulf Islands.