Since November last year, there have been 574 pedestrians on average detected walking through the Flinders Street underpass each Monday morning between 8am and 9am, making it the quietest weekday morning for foot traffic.
Thursdays are the busiest post-lockdown weekday morning outside Flinders Street Station, with 701 pedestrians detected on average between 8am and 9am. But irrespective of the day of the week, foot traffic is still well below 2019 levels when more than 3500 people would pass through each weekday morning.
Back in 2019, it was Friday, rather than Monday, that was the quietest day for weekday foot traffic at the underpass.
And while Monday foot traffic was lower than the weekday average in 2019, it was nowhere near as pronounced, with morning foot traffic just 2 per cent lower on average than the rest of the week.
Since the end of the second lockdown, Monday morning pedestrian numbers have been 11 per cent below those of a typical weekday.
The data shows the same post-lockdown trend at Southern Cross Station.
Back in 2019, the area recorded its lowest average weekday morning peak pedestrian numbers on Fridays, but since the end of the second lockdown Monday mornings have recorded the lowest average foot traffic, with 256 people detected on average between 8am and 9am.
The same trend is observed throughout the morning, so the data does not show more people opting to travel into work earlier or later in the day.
However, the drops in pedestrian traffic could reflect people avoiding public transport and instead opting to drive into the city post-lockdown.
Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp said average pedestrian activity in the city was up by 12.4 per cent on the last day of March – a Wednesday – compared to the previous three weeks, but this was still down by 45 per cent compared to the pre-COVID average.
“The number of people coming into the city is increasing but we still have a long way to go and local businesses will continue to require support,” she said.
“We’re hopeful that in coming weeks we see more people coming into the city every weekday, as workers reconnect with their teammates and get the benefits of in-person collaboration.”
Cr Capp said the council was continually assessing data to deliver targeted events or programs to get people into the city when businesses most needed them.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said CBD businesses would need to adapt their opening hours and staffing levels to accommodate the busiest trading times.
“The city definitely has a swagger that wasn’t there a week or two ago,” he said.
“However, there is no doubt that hybrid working is here to stay for most city offices and that’s something that we need to embrace and respond to as a new economy.”
Mr Guerra said workers would hopefully see the benefit of a shorter commute or getting a tram seat on a Monday.
Ms Coates said Slattery had implemented a roster to encourage staff to come into the office on a mix of days, which they hoped in turn would help local businesses survive the pandemic.
“The businesses really need us,” she said.
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Craig Butt joined The Age in 2011 and specialises in data-driven journalism.
Chloe Booker is a city reporter for The Age.