Increasing rail trail usage prompts call for review
A RISE in the number of Brisbane Valley Rail Trail users has prompted council to investigate just how the popular trail is being used.
Somerset Regional Council plans to partner with the University of Queensland Business School to undertake a survey of Rail Trail users.
The research program will be overseen by a committee, including members of Somerset Regional Council, the Department of Main Roads, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association, and from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Ambassadors.
The goal of the program provide data to help influence investment surrounding the trail, identify areas for improvement, and create more economic and tourism opportunities.
"I thoroughly endorse this," Councillor Bob Whalley said, at the recent council meeting.
"It's imperative that we have an independent body to supervise the Rail Trail."
The study intends to find out who is using the Rail Trail, where they're coming from, how long or far they're using it for, why they choose to use it, and what opportunities for improvement they believe might exist.
The survey data will be readily available to anyone who inquiries, with the council intending to use it to help with advertising and promotion.
The cost of the program will be split 50/50 between the Department of Main Roads and Somerset Council, who will contribute $15,000.
"The people who use the Rail Trail bring a lot to our area," Cr Whalley said.
"We can use this data for a targeted marketing campaign to keep these people here longer."
The BVRT continues to be a major economic and tourism drive for the entire Somerset Region.
The post-event report for this year's Rail Trail Fun Run showed a 73% increase in registrations, compared to 2018.
In total, there were 539 returning competitors, and 429 new participants.
Council is making considerations to further enhance the event for future years, including expanded amenities, increased signage, and more drinks along the track for runners and riders.
There are also plans to introduce discounts and promotions to encourage more users, and re-allocate the budget to give a greater focus to promoting the event online.
"These ideas have been discussed at length, and I believe these changes are for the betterment of the event," Cr Whalley said.
There is also talk of changing the name in the next 2-3 years, from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Fun Run or Ride to something significantly shorter, such as Somerset Rail Trail Classic.