Zilker Zephyr operators offer photo op before taking train away


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The operators of the Zilker Zephyr are inviting the community to come get their picture taken with the miniature train this weekend because they’re taking it with them when they leave Zilker Park.

“We just wanted to share the last few days with you guys, so you can come out take a last picture with your family and share the joy we’ve been able to enjoy since we were children ourselves,” said Debbie Rodriguez on Saturday, the wife of the owner.

Gallery below: Austinites enjoy last days of Zilker Zephyr

A Facebook post entitled “Final Statement” stated, in part, they’ll pull the train out of the tunnel from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and Saturday for people to stop by and take pictures. They’ll also sell their remaining souvenirs and memorabilia during that time, and, once they leave the park, the train will leave the station.

“We are leaving Zilker Park, and we are taking our big green Zephyr train with us,” the post stated.

KXAN obtained the contract between the operators, Texas Special, and the city. Under the Basic Services heading, item C reads, “The Contractor (Texas Special) shall provide all equipment necessary to the operation of the concession, including easily accessible passenger cars.”

The contractor also “shall be responsible for all expenses incurred in the maintenance and upkeep of all facilities including the concession premises,” according to the contract.

The contract was originally signed in 1996.

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department confirmed the train contractor owns the train, and whoever is given the new contract will have to bring a new train with them. It said earlier this week it will soon accept bids for new vendors.

The Zilker Zephyr has been out of commission since rainstorms in May last year caused erosion along the river. The vendor worked with PARD to try to get the train back on track, but its contract ended before the repairs could be completed. It asked for a five-year contract extension, but the city would only agree to a shorter extension, which the vendor turned down, saying it didn’t make financial sense.

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