BART, MTA, NJ Transit, WMATA among agencies recognizing Autism Acceptance Month

April 4, 2024
The agencies are making an effort to promote inclusivity by highlighting the voices of some of transit's biggest fans.

To celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are each shedding light on some of the voices of their community's youth on the autism spectrum.


As a part of the Autism Transit Project, BART invited youth on the autism spectrum from its community to record station announcements to be heard over station public announcement systems.

BART is playing these recordings at 35 of its stations across the system every hour for the remainder of April. 

“Children with autism don’t always come to language naturally the way neurotypical children do,” said Jonathan Trichter, founder of special needs schools for children with autism and the creator of the Autism Transit Project. “They grab phrases where they are most focused and may repeat them the same way other kids babble. It is not unusual for the first sentence a child with autism utters to be a regular service announcement at transit stations — something we take for granted every day. For these kids, it is the language they first use to communicate with their family and peers. That’s why this project is so very meaningful to them. I’d like to thank BART for letting these beautiful children be heard. “ 


The MTA is taking a visible approach to highlighting Autism Acceptance Month by lighting up its Long Island Rail Road concourses at New York Penn Station and Grand Central Madison in blue as part of the agency's ad campaign, which is displayed on digital screens that relay Autism Acceptance Month messages throughout the month of April. 

“The MTA is proud to join in the message of acceptance, support and inclusion that Autism Acceptance Month stands for,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara. “All month long, customers moving through the system will be reminded to do their part to support and embrace all those with autism and to celebrate everyone in our community.”

NJ Transit

NJ Transit will also be taking part in the Autism Awareness Month messaging done by its community's youth on the spectrum. Children have been recruited from the public, as well as from families of NJ Transit employees to make the recordings.

"By embracing the unique perspectives of neurodiverse children in our station announcements and broadening access to tools like Magnusmode, NJ Transit continues to foster a more inclusive transit system,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “This Autism Acceptance Month, we’re proud to showcase our efforts to make travel as accessible and welcoming as possible for everyone.”

The agency will be expanding its Magnusmode travel app to include "MagnusCards for Light Rail,” a travel aid that provides useful instructions for riding light rail in a flash card-style format, tailored to autistic and neurodiverse individuals. The agency previously released “MagnusCards for Bus” and “MagnusCards for Rail,” providing similar assistance for bus and rail customers.

NJ Transit first partnered with Magnusmode in 2022 to bring MagnusCards and make its transit experiance safer and more accessible to its community.

"In 2024 we are now able to assist autistic and neurodivergent individuals to navigate three important modes of travel in New Jersey: Bus, train and light rail. We are extremely proud of this development,” said Magnusmode Founder and CEO Nadia Hamilton, “Together we are supporting independent and inclusive living. Our continued partnership expansion is a true testament to NJ Transit’s commitment to ensuring accessible transit for people of all backgrounds and abilities.”


This year, the WMATA invited 25 children on the autism spectrum to record boarding and safety announcements that will be played throughout the Metrorail system for the entire month.

WMATA will be highlighting and honoring the contributions of these individuals at the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station on April 10. 

"We recognize the importance of supporting autism acceptance and are proud to be part of this event," said WMATA General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke. "Our goal is to foster a more inclusive society and celebrate the unique strengths and contributions of individuals with autism in our community."

This year, WMATA's participants in this program range from 5 to 19 years old and represent communities throughout the region. The pre-recorded announcements will cover a variety of pertinent information, including reminders to hold children by the hand on escalators and minding the gap when entering and exiting trains.

About the Author

Eman Abu-Khaled | Associate Editor

Eman Abu-Khaled is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelors in journalism. She works through Endeavor Business Media with Mass Transit as an associate editor. Abu-Khaled brings a fresh perspective to the visual side of journalism with an interest in video and photography work.