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Published on : Saturday, November 16, 2013
A university student from Oklahoma City was identified today as representative of the one-million passengers who have ridden the Amtrak Heartland Flyer route in Oklahoma and Texas since 1999. Rooke Jackson attended events in Oklahoma City and Fort Worth with his father and grandfather.
Wayne J. Jackson and his son Rooke are familiar with the route and the Amtrak train crew members who nominated him for the honor.
By the family’s count, they have ridden the Heartland Flyer more than 150 times, mostly to visit Wayne R. Jackson, Rooke’s grandfather.
Pictures of Rooke in Pauls Valley, Okla., in 1999 at age four and today at age 18 with his father and grandfather, are to the right.
The Heartland Flyer is jointly sponsored by the Oklahoma and Texas transportation departments.
“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 the Okla. DOT.
“TxDOT would like to thank the local communities for their support of the Heartland Flyer passenger service and we look forward to the continued success of this state-supported route,” said Erik Steavens, TxDOT Rail Division Director. “We are pleased with the positive impact the Heartland Flyer has had on both the economy of the region, mobility, and the associated environmental benefits.”
“We’d also like to congratulate the ‘millionth’ rider and wish the Jackson family many more, enjoyable trips on the route.”
Mike Patterson, Executive Director of Okla. DOT, attended the brief ceremony at the Paul Adams Memorial Platform at the Oklahoma City Amtrak Station to congratulate the Jackson family.
Rooke Jackson is a freshman at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater who said, despite
owning a classic car from the 60s, taking Trains 821 & 822 “is more enjoyable than driving.”
His mother, Elaine Jackson, brought him to the Flyer’s inaugural event in 1999. In the 14 years to follow, Rooke has become friends with the Fort Worth-based Amtrak crews who have watched him grow to young adulthood. Rooke said all the trips over these years have given him “a unique perspective” on the train crews and their responsibilities.
Amtrak operates the Heartland Flyer under state-funded contracts with Okla. DOT (since
1999) and TxDOT (since 2006) to provide daily service, with regularly scheduled stops in
Oklahoma City, Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Ardmore in Oklahoma and in Gainesville
and Fort Worth in Texas. For details about the stops along the route or to find out more about the Heartland Flyer and its history, go to HeartlandFlyer.com, which is operated by the Heartland Flyer Coalition, representing the communities on the 206-mile route.
In 2007, Amtrak, the transportation departments and the coalition recognized a grandmother from Oklahoma City, as the 500,000th passenger on the train, which consistently 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. “The high customer service marks speak to the
professionalism of the care and service by Amtrak. It is extremely important to us for Amtrak to keep a pulse of passengers’ travel experiences and constantly strive for improvements.”