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“It was an outdated system that had reached the end of its useful life,” said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard.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.”