Monorail cars: Minnesota Zoo’s white elephants permanently derailed

Seventeen monorail cars nobody seems to want are sitting at the Minnesota Zoo this fall, their days in motion done perhaps for good.

Since debuting at the Apple Valley zoo in an era when sleek, futuristic trains were springing up at zoos across the country, the monorail was plagued by low ridership and financial shortfalls. In the early 1980s, it came close to being repossessed or even sold for scrap. In recent years, it had been more quietly losing money, until finally, this fall, the zoo pulled the plug.

“It was an outdated system that had reached the end of its useful life,” said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard. There were “no viable or affordable options to replace [it]. … The manufacturer has long been out of business.”

Commissioning new trains to run on existing track, she said, would have cost “in excess of $40 million, and we determined this would not be the best use of future capital dollars since monorail ridership had declined over the years to below 15 percent of the zoo’s total annual attendance.”

Story by StarTribune, photo by Keeshond

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  7. shovelfoot said: 15 percent is a good amount I would be interested to know the percentage of visitors who venture to exhibits at the far reaches of the monorail by foot? Also who does it in the winter and gets to see what they walked to?
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  12. aliensnipe reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    When I heard about this, I was sad I hadn’t gotten a chance to ride it, but I was informed by Minnesotans that it wasn’t...
  13. scjsundae reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    this makes me so sad!!! I used to love riding the monorail when I was a kid!
  14. lovetolive30 reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    :( I remember riding those every time I went to the zoo.
  15. northstar78 said: I would have rode the fucking thing if it was free. I guess that’s part of the problem. It always felt like a ripoff.
  16. acousticsunset reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    It just makes me so sad to see it go :( I work at the zoo and it was just always such a big part of the experience.
  17. fearthequeer reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    there goes my childhood.
  18. nedison reblogged this from stuffaboutminneapolis and added:
    R.I.P. I want to go salvage a car and turn it into a yard camper.
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