Home MTA Absurdity Hanging ten atop the subway cars

Hanging ten atop the subway cars

by Benjamin Kabak

This is really just a terrible idea. (Photo courtesy of flickr user tombo PRS)

So yesterday morning, I had the sheer pleasure of an early-morning physical therapy appointment. Thus, my train crossed the Manhattan Bridge at around 8:35 — or thirty minutes earlier than I generally pass over the East River. Lucky for me, it seems.

On Wednesday morning, at a approximately 8:40 a.m., New York City Transit halted service over the Manhattan Bridge, north of DeKalb St., when an operator of an oncoming train spied a train surfer a top a Manhattan-bound Q train. amNew York reports that NYCT held the train for 40 minutes while workers attempted to get the moron rider off the top of the train car.

Now, what, you might be wondering, is train surfing? It is only the single dumbest thing a person can do in the subways. Train surfing is the extreme activity of riding atop a train in motion. Generally, as Jinx Magazine tells us, it involves “ducking low overpasses, dodging 3,300-volt electrical wires, and maintaining one’s balance, all while atop a subway train moving.”

In New York, train surfing is particularly challenging. While our third-rail voltage doesn’t approach the 3,300 figure of other countries’, our subway system’s tunnels offer low or no clearance in most places. Beams, signals and wires provide hazards for everyone to enjoy. It’s no surprise, then, that NYCT Spokesman Charles Seaton issued a fairly morbid comment on the incident: “It’s happened before, and usually when it happens, the person gets killed.”

Train surfing is, by many accounts, a 30-year pastime for bored teenagers looking for a heart-racing thrill. Seven years ago, in a fascinating and terrifying piece, The Village Voice delved into the underground of train surfing. The story, with descriptions vivid enough to make the reader’s heart race, details the deaths and injuries of train surfers in New York: a teenager dead after striking a signal light, two drunk revelers who were struck in a Jackson Heights tunnel. The injuries and stories are horrific.

So now that school in the city is back in session, kids are laying claim to — and wreaking havoc on — the subways. As SUBWAYblogger noted, at least three teens resorted to knives at 110th St. on the West Side to settle a dispute just a few hours after this subway-surfing incident. Fun times.

Meanwhile, even though these train surfing incidents are few and far between, nothing strikes me as being quite so ripe for a Darwin Award as someone who tries to ride on top of a subway train in New York City. It may be a thrill, but you almost have to pine for the good old days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll instead of train surfing.

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