An 18-year-old university student from Oklahoma City who first rode Amtrak's Heartland Flyer as a 4-year-old was honored Friday as the passenger route's 1 millionth rider.
Rooke Jackson, along with his father, Wayne J. Jackson, and grandfather, Wayne R. Jackson, attended events this week in Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. Rooke Jackson was nominated by Amtrak train crew members for the honor.
Rooke Jackson, a freshman at Oklahoma State University, first encountered the Heartland Flyer when his mother, Elaine, took him to the inaugural event in 1999. The Jacksons estimate they've taken the Heartland Flyer more than 150 times since then, mostly to visit Rooke's grandfather.
Rooke Jackson said all the trips over these years have given him “a unique perspective” on the train crews and their responsibilities.
The Heartland Flyer route is jointly sponsored by the Oklahoma and Texas transportation departments. The route has regularly scheduled stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Ardmore in Oklahoma, as well as in Gainesville, Texas.
“The time on the train can be a great way to catch up on some business, visit with family and friends or simply enjoy the scenic ride through the Arbuckle Mountains,” said Craig Moody, rail programs division manager at Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Amtrak said a grandmother from Oklahoma City was recognized in 2007 as the 500,000th passenger on the Heartland Flyer, which ranks among the best in the Amtrak network for customer satisfaction.
“Each and every time a passenger boards the Heartland Flyer, we want that trip to be the very best experience for them,” Moody said.
For information about the Heartland Flyer and its history, go to HeartlandFlyer.com. The website is operated by the Heartland Flyer Coalition, which represents communities along the 206-mile route.