Special guests are making Metro announcements for autism awareness

Hear some of the announcements in Luke Lukert's audio piece

If you have hopped aboard a Metro train or bus in April, you may have heard some announcements that highlight autism awareness and acceptance made by some very special guests.

“You’ll hear some of the regular service announcements being spoken by children with autism who love trains, putting their own unique twist on the normal service announcements, to give it a little flair,” Jonathan Trichter, the founder of the Autism Transit Project, told WTOP.

Trichter founded two special needs schools for children with autism, one in New York City and the other in Stamford, Connecticut, and discovered that many of his students were obsessed with trains.

“That’s a phenomenon that frontline transit workers are well familiar with across the country, as they see these kids dragging their families on joy rides to nowhere, or coming up to them and asking them complex questions about the system that stumped them,” said Trichter.

He started the project last year with the New York City subway and then expanded the project to several transit agencies across the country, including MARTA in Atlanta, BART in the Bay Area and New Jersey Transit.

“Metro is proud to support the Autism Transit Project and appreciates the young transit enthusiasts for using their voices and unique gifts to spread awareness about autism to our Metro customers,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke in a statement.

Around 100 kids and young adults age in range from four to 22 helped with the “welcome aboard” announcements in 2023.

“They’re from all different economic strata, demographic cohorts, what they share in common is a different neurological makeup and a love of trains,” said Trichter.

Trichter said he hopes these messages will bring acceptance for those who live on the spectrum.

“I like to think that by embracing neurological differences in people with autism, we are not only bringing them into civic life and therefore improving their own human experience, but also advancing our own civilization and society by pushing through prejudices and historical wrongs,” said Trichter. “Achieving inclusivity acceptance and helping fix the broken human condition.”

Trichter hopes to bring the project internationally next year. “Perhaps we’ll be in Asia, London, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo.”

Below is the list of participants that you’ll hear across Metro:

  • Christopher, 13
  • Victor, 23
  • Jackson, 25
  • James
  • Seth, 11
  • Ezra, 5
  • Calvin, 6
  • Sara, 24
  • Jasper, 17
  • Elias, 7
  • Jude, 10
  • Nadim, 21
  • Alexander, 8
  • Owen, 22
  • Owen, 19
  • Taylor, 20
  • Sammy, 18
  • Benjamin, 16
  • Michael, 13
  • Max, 4
  • Alex, 28
  • Aubrey, 15
  • Hannah, 3
  • Kaylani, 27
  • Hector, 26
  • Eli, 9

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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