Friday was a landmark occasion for the Heartland Flyer, as it boarded its one-millionth passenger.
Rooke Jackson, an Oklahoma State University student, was selected as the honoree, having ridden the Heartland Flyer more than 150 times since its inception in 1999. Rooke Jackson's father, Wayne J. Jackson, and his grandfather, Wayne R. Jackson, joined him on the trip. Wayne was picked up at the Pauls Valley stop. Ardmore was one of the stops for the Jackson family as part of a celebratory journey to Fort Worth, Texas.
The youngest Jackson said he and his family would visit the sites in Fort Worth before boarding the train for a return trip Friday afternoon. The Heartland Flyer is jointly sponsored by the Oklahoma and Texas transportation departments.
"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."
At the start of the trip, Jackson was congratulated during a brief ceremony at the Paul Adams Memorial Platform at the Oklahoma City Amtrak Station. Amtrak also recognized its 500,000th passenger in 2007. The Heartland Flyer is consistently ranked 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," said Craig Moody, Rail Programs Division manager for the Oklahomd Department of Transportation. "The high customer service marks speak to the professionalism of the care and service by Amtrak. It is extremely important to us to keep a pulse of passengers' travel experiences, and constantly strive for improvements."