It is a challenge that can lead to death. "Subway surfing", a new trend that seduces many young people on social networks, worries the public authorities. In New York in particular, the authorities are trying to stop this challenge, which consists of staging themselves by climbing on the roof of a moving subway.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which manages New York's transportation network, the release of videos on the networks last spring and summer boosted the popularity of the challenge. It recorded 928 reports of people travelling outside cars, more than four times more than in 2021, and almost double the number in 2019 (490), the last year before the Covid pandemic.


Man stands on NYC train car — just weeks after teen dies subway surfing https://t.co/uzv3Fj8k1Z pic.twitter.com/oam1kFVWvB

— New York Post Metro (@nypmetro) March 17, 2023

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"It's like playing Russian roulette"

The MTA has called for social media responsibility by naming TikTok, Instagram or Snapchat. "If they broadcast videos of people playing Russian roulette with live ammunition, they would realize the consequences. It's the same for those kids who are encouraged by these glorification videos," the MTA CEO recently blasted.

A TikTok spokesperson said the network "does not display videos of known dangerous behavior in search results," even ensuring that it directs searches toward guidelines stating that this type of content is not allowed. Snapchat responded that it "immediately deletes" "subway surfing" videos if it is aware of them. One of the spokespeople also explained that contacts have been made with the MTA "to discuss the measures we can take to prevent the dissemination of this content".

A challenge reminiscent of the video game "Subway surfers"

Isa Islam is one of those who will regret all his life to have gone looking for his "adrenaline rush" at the age of 17. That November evening, he and two cousins climbed onto the roof of a rail car at an underground station on the F Line in Brooklyn. On his first - and last - attempt, his head hit a metal beam, blood sprayed and wounds left him partially blind. "It was extremely stupid," he says today. "If there's one person who needs a time machine, it's me," he adds.

Isa, who had spent six weeks in hospital and underwent "many" operations, survived, but some are less fortunate. In February, a 15-year-old boy died after falling from the roof of a moving subway. Another teenager, from the Bronx, died in December. After these accidents, the NYPD recalled that the subway was "not a playground" and that riding on a moving car is illegal.

This new trend is also reminiscent of the video game "Subway surfers", popular on mobile applications, where the hero, a graffiti artist, jumps from train to train and runs on the tracks to escape a policeman. But in real life, "it's not a video game," warns Isa Islam, who now lavishes her message of prevention within an association, "Breaking the Cycle".

  • Challenge
  • Challenge
  • TikTok
  • Social Media
  • Subway
  • New York
  • Internet users
  • By the Web