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Transit agencies, including D.C., participate in the Autism Transit Project


If you've been on public transportation recently in one of a number of cities in the U.S., you might have heard a message like this.


EZRA: Hi, my name is Ezra, which is spelled E-Z-R-A. Welcome to Metro. When the train arrives, let customers exit before trying to get on.

MARTIN: Your conductor there is 10 years old. He lives in Washington, D.C., and he's one of the children who have recorded public service announcements for transit systems in their area.


They did this as part of the Autism Transit Project. Jonathan Trichter came up with the idea after learning some autistic kids develop an intense focus on phrases they hear.

JONATHAN TRICHTER: It is not unusual for the first sentence that an autistic child utter to be something like stand clear of the closing doors, please.

INSKEEP: Trichter launched the campaign last year in New York for Autism Awareness Month.

MARTIN: This year, transit systems in Atlanta, New Jersey, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have gotten on board, featuring messages like this one from 6-year-old Benjamin for the D.C. area Metro.


BENJAMIN: May I have your attention, please? When using escalators, do not run or jump or sitting on the steps.

INSKEEP: Good advice. Mr. Trichter says he would eventually like to connect some of the kids' fascinations with trains to job opportunities in transit, an idea he got after a conversation with a transit worker who's autistic.

TRICHTER: He told me the story about how he had used his disabilities and love of transit, despite the other challenges that autism presented, to thrive in mass transit as a career. And that was inspiring.

MARTIN: Trichter is thinking even bigger next year, expanding beyond the U.S.

TRICHTER: I've already received some inbound inquiries from foreign countries, and I'd like to do that for next year, especially at places that have state-of-the-art mass transit systems but whose histories may be more mixed when it comes to incorporating neurodiversity and the disabled communities into civic life.

MARTIN: We'll let 10-year-old Seth of Fort Washington, Md., close us out with this reminder from D.C.'s Metro.


SETH: Please be mindful of the priority seats reserved for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Thank you for riding Metro, and enjoy your ride. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.