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ICYMI: Governor Hochul, MTA, and Mayor Adams Unveil Comprehensive Campaign to Combat Subway Surfing

Updated Sep 5, 2023 12:30 p.m.

Campaign Features Student-Created Graphics and Animations; Digital Signage, Audio Announcements; Posters and Banners in Stations and Schools   

Partnerships with Social Media Platforms for Placement of PSAs   

Student Audio Announcements Playing in Subway Stations Available Here  

Student Public Service Announcement Video Available Here   

See Video of Today’s Event 

See Photos of Today’s Event  


Governor Kathy Hochul, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Mayor Eric Adams today unveiled a new comprehensive, multi-channel public information campaign against subway surfing in partnership with the New York Police Department, New York City Public Schools, and the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development. The new campaign centers around and is designed and spoken by New York City teenagers – putting the youth voice front and center in a peer-to-peer effort to deter this dangerous behavior among young people.   

“The safety of New Yorkers is my top priority,” Governor Hochul said. “Through this innovative partnership, young New Yorkers will hear directly from their teachers and peers about the extreme danger of subway surfing, saving lives and preventing more tragedies. New York will continue to do everything we can to keep our young people safe on the subways.”  

Mayor Eric Adams said, “Each subway surfing death tragically strips young New Yorkers of promising futures. We cannot endure another tragedy on our trains. That’s why we are partnering with the MTA on an innovative campaign to raise awareness, and we have recruited true social media experts to help lead it: young New Yorkers. Our young people know best how to reach their peers and they want to help keep their friends safe. We will make sure that every young New Yorker understands: ‘Subway Surfing Kills – Ride Inside, Stay Alive’.” 

The NYPD is contributing to the campaign by deploying officers to stations on outdoor elevated lines and by conducting home visits with youths who have been observed riding outside of trains.  

The campaign announcement was made outside the 33 St–Rawson St   subway station – the site of a tragic incident on Thursday, June 29, in which a 14-year-old from Brooklyn died after falling while attempting to ride on top a   train. The   line experiences the most subway surfing incidents in the transit system. 

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “Riding outside a train car is subway stupidity and never ends well. We are begging parents to speak with their children, and teachers to talk to their students about what can seem like a game but can end in tragedy. I want to thank Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams and our City agency partners for their strong support in raising awareness about the dangers of this so that we can prevent any more young lives being senselessly lost.”  

New York City Transit President Richard Davey said, “The goal of this campaign is to remind members of the public, especially young people, that riding on top of subway cars is reckless, dumb and dangerous, frequently leading to tragedy for the person involved and their loved ones. There is no doubt that the work of the MTA, Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, and these students will save lives.”  

MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said, “Partnering with social media companies to prevent videos of people riding outside trains from seeing the light of day is crucial to preventing subway surfing. We want young people to get the message that a few likes on social media is not worth losing your life.”  

New York City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks said, “A viral video is not worth your life. Led by students from the High School of Art and Design, this campaign is truly made by students, for students, and I’m so proud of all the work and advocacy that has been done by our young people. Subway Surfing kills, and far too many of our bright young students have died due to this trend. Today, and every day, I’m urging every child to ride inside and stay alive.”   

NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said, “Our message to New York City’s youth is clear: Always ride inside the train. Subway surfing is dangerous, it is illegal, and it can be lethal. The NYPD will continue to do everything we can to stop this reckless behavior — but it starts with sound decision making. So be smart, be safe, and always ride inside the train.”  

Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Keith Howard said, “The urgent message of this campaign is clear—subway surfing is irresponsible, dangerous, and can be deadly. Life is to be celebrated, but not atop a subway car. Young people need to seriously consider the risks, and the pain and suffering of loved ones left to care for them or grieve. We are asking the public to join the Mayor and our partners in saving lives by reporting subway surfing, and encouraging peers to have those difficult but persuasive conversations with friends engaged in reckless behavior.”  

MTA data shows that dangerous riding outside of subway trains occurs predominantly in the afternoons during warmer months when school is in session, indicating that it has essentially become a dangerous form of after-school activity. In anticipation of an uptick in incidents in September upon the start of the new school year, Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, the MTA and City partners today launched a multi-layered campaign, “Subway Surfing Kills - Ride Inside, Stay Alive,” across various communication platforms, to include public service announcements in stations recorded by students; digital signage across stations; student-created graphics and animations; posters and banners across stations and distributed in schools; physical palm cards distributed at schools and in stations; school swag including planners, pens and pencils, notepads and sticky notes; social media posts across platforms including TikTok, Instagram and YouTube in the form of posts, reels/shorts and influencer collaborations; distribution of new student MetroCards accompanied by a “Ride Inside, Stay Alive” palm card, and anti-surfing messages on the back of some MetroCards for sale in station MetroCard vending machines.   

The MTA partnered with NYC Public Schools and DYCD to identify students from schools across the city who created the new campaign. Students from the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan created graphics, animations and artwork that will be seen throughout the subway system and on social media.  

A group of middle school and high school students from the Academy of American Studies in Queens, the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, I.S. 318 in Brooklyn, and DYCD summer programs went to MTA headquarters last month to record announcements explaining the dangers of riding outside of trains. Eight announcements, recorded in both English and Spanish, will be heard throughout the transit system beginning this week.    

Because teenagers frequently post videos of themselves surfing to social media, the MTA has been asking that social media companies including Meta, Google and TikTok reduce access to these videos. Since this past spring the social media companies have removed more than 3,000 videos and photos showing subway surfing. Those companies also are making space on their platforms available to help distribute the new messaging campaign. 

The MTA continues to meet with school administrators to ensure students are learning about the dangers of riding outside of train cars in school. The NYPD also has officers deployed at stations where subway surfing has been known to take place and makes home visits with young people who have been known to participate in subway surfing. 

In 2023, there have been five fatalities due to suspected subway surfing, compared to five total fatalities between 2018 and 2022. The MTA has documented over 450 instances of people riding outside of trains between January and June in 2023.  

Councilmember Julie Won said, “In 2023, four young people tragically died from subway surfing, including a teen who was riding on the elevated  train at Rawson Street in my district. As a mother, I support the launch of the Ride Inside, Stay Alive Campaign to educate our community and put a stop to this dangerous trend. Back in May, our office wrote a letter for MTA and NYCT to take immediate action to prevent subway surfing, including locking train doors. One child’s death is too many — we must do more to protect our children and prevent future subway surfing incidents.” 

Julie Samuels, President and Executive Director of Tech:NYC, said, “Modern technology has changed the way New Yorkers live and interact with the city around us, improving our lives in many ways while at times presenting unforeseen challenges. We’re encouraged to see tech companies work closely with the city and state governments to address these challenges, and we applaud those who came together to stop the dangerous subway surfing trend. The tech community is proud to work with city leaders and public safety officials to help keep New Yorkers safe.”  

High School of Art and Design Student Milana Blokhina said, “We took on this campaign during our summer break, as we understood the urgency of the design before us. As young adults, we felt strongly about the tragedies that resulted from subway surfing accidents among the youth. We can design from the view of our target audiences as we naturally make up a part of it. Even if we save one life, we make a difference.”