VICTORIA -- BC Ferries is increasing service along four of its major routes, as the company predicts an increase in travel demand this summer.

Extra sailings are being added to BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route, Tsawwassen to Duke Point route, Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay route and Horseshoe Bay to Langdale route.

In total, three more ferries have been added to the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route, two more have been added to the Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay route, and one additional ship has been added to the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale route.

Overall, BC Ferries says that extra ships will add roughly 120 sailings per week to its schedule, compared to earlier in June.

Currently, BC Ferries says that ferry traffic is at roughly 50 per cent compared to the same time in 2019. In April, ferry ridership was down as much as 80 per cent.

With B.C. looking to reopen its economy, the ferry service says that the additional sailings will help offset any extra demand.

BC Ferries notes that while it has “more than enough capacity” to accommodate all daily passengers, popular sailing times may still be full during the pandemic as maximum passenger capacity on each vessel is still reduced to 50 per cent due to Transport Canada health orders.

“BC Ferries urges safe and responsible behaviour while on board, including reminding customers to remain their vehicles, maintaining physical distance from other passengers and possessing a face covering in the event physical distancing is not possible,” said the company in a release Monday.

While ridership is expected to increase this summer, BC Ferries says that it expects it will still be roughly two to three years before traffic levels return to pre-COVID-19 rates.

Full sailing schedules can be found on the BC Ferries website here