Metro’s Friday train strike could have cost the Melbourne economy up to $10 million, with unprepared small businesses taking the biggest hit.
A frantic build up to the four-hour strike included Vic Roads suggesting Melburnians “stay home if they can”.
On Friday morning it seemed the anticipated mayhem had ended in an anti-climax, as commuters tweeted images of empty platforms, and traffic reports indicated only slight delays during peak hour.
But it appears a large number of city workers did take the cue to stay away, either calling in sick or working from home.
Just two thirds of financial firm Price Waterhouse Coopers employees turned up to work, while Telstra and ANZ also indicated many of their staff had avoided the trip in, according to The Age.
The result was compared to an unexpected public holiday, and according to Lord Mayor Robert Doyle may have cost the Melbourne economy as much as last summer’s heatwave.
“We know that is about $10 million … and this is in a week when the Australian Bureau of Statistics brought out figures to show that retail is flat,” he said.
A handful of vendors inside Flinders Street Station said they had lost out on the lunch crowd they rely on and one said he would have to throw out hundreds of uneaten sandwiches.
Alamein line is unbelievably quiet. Most peaceful commute I’ve had all year. #metrostrike
— David C Carter (@CarterCDavid) September 3, 2015
Taxis anticipating a surge were also left underwhelmed.
One 13CABS operator told The Age business had been slower than expected, as workers avoided the commute altogether.
With no new salary agreement reached between the government and Metro, the strikes are set to continue over the weekend.
And in worrying news for AFL fans, Metro staff have been advised to create havoc during footy finals should the standoff continue.
“It’s finals time soon, what a lovely time to have some industrial action,” said CMFEU secretary John Setka at Trades Hall rally on Friday.
The potential for transport mayhem would certainly be increased should the strikes stretch out for the finals series, as up to 100,000 flock to the MCG.
Metro chief Andrew Lezala said using the football finals to their advantage would be an “outrage”.