Assiniboine Park steam train faces troubled times

The miniature steam train ride in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park could be reaching the end of its run.
Ridership on the steam train has dropped from 200 people a day to as low as 30. (YouTube)

Mini steam train

Located: West of the main pavilion (west on Pavilion Crescent), across from Nature Playground parking lot.

Open: Daily (weather permitting) from noon to 6 p.m. from May long weekend to September long weekend.

After September long weekend, train operates on weekends and holiday Mondays to mid/late October (weather permitting).

Ticket: $2.75

The miniature steam train ride in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park could be reaching the end of its run.

Tim Buzunis, who owns and operates the train — which has been in the park since 1964 — said his business has plummeted since the park permanently closed the east gate to the zoo in the spring.

The zoo's main entrance is now the south gate on Roblin Boulevard. It was changed due to the major construction of the Journey to Churchill exhibit.

The train station, however, is located near the east gate. Without the traffic that once went past, ridership is down so much it almost makes no sense to even run the train.

Buzunis used to average 200 passengers a day, now "I'm going around sometimes with two people, three people," he said.

The steam train has been located at Assiniboine Park since 1964. (YouTube)

"There's nobody coming by the park. I mean there's nobody coming by my train and to sit there for like seven or eight hours a day, it doesn't make any sense — to take 30 people around for the entire day."

Buzunis said he has heard the closure of the east gate to the general public could be permanent.

If the situation doesn't improve, Buzunis said he may have to pull up the tracks and move the train out.

The train, which is powered by a mini-oven fed by chunks of coal, was purchased by Buzunis's father in Pennsylvania and moved to Winnipeg.

It was set up in the park in 1964 and Buzunis took over operation in 1988. 

He said the Assinbioine Park Conservancy, which operates the park, knows about his concerns.

Calls by CBC News for comment from the conservancy have not yet been returned.