City of Austin working to secure contract to reopen Zilker Zephyr

The City of Austin has responded to the closing of the iconic Zilker Zephyr, saying they are working to find a new vendor for the ride. 

For more than two decades the Zilker Zephyr offered children and families a 20-minute excursion in Zilker Park but a washout under some of the train tracks near the Zilker Park Great Lawn lead to collapse in contract talks between the operator and the city. 

Now, Austin Parks and Rec is looking for a new vendor to reopen the Zephyr. 

"The Austin Parks & Recreation Department is saddened by the temporary closure of the Zilker Zephyr. The Zephyr is more than a train ride through Zilker Park, it’s part of Austin’s history and a cultural institution. The Department takes the operation of this beloved amenity seriously and is working to secure a contract for future operations,"  PARD said on their website.  

The washout happened in May 2019 after storms moved through Austin. City officials say that repairing the washout is the contractual responsibility of the operator, which still had a year left on its deal.

"As with many park amenities, the long-term operation and success of the Zephyr depends on its infrastructure. When the storm occurred, less than a year was remaining on the vendor’s contract. As with other long-term concessions, the Department planned to re-bid the service to ensure the public receives the best services possible while providing all vendors an opportunity to manage operations." 

However, the vendor and the city were not able to come to an agreement over the needed repairs resulting in the ride's closure. 

The City website states that PARD is working as "expediently as possible to procure a new vendor" and has thanked the previous vendor for their services to Austin.