Subway Challenge

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The official subway map

The Subway Challenge is a challenge in which participants must navigate the entire New York City Subway system in the shortest time possible. This ride is also known as the Rapid Transit Challenge and the Ultimate Ride. Although the challenge requires competitors to stop at all 472 stations, no person currently holds that record. One competitor holds the record for 469 stations, as he had competed before the January 2017 opening of the Second Avenue Subway. Three teams held the Guinness record for 468 stations, as they had competed prior to both the September 2015 opening of the 7 Subway Extension and the January 2017 opening of the Second Avenue Subway, but after Dean Street station was closed in 1995. Records set before 1995 had a varying number of stations.

There are three primary variations of this challenge:

  1. Ride that requires a rider to traverse every line, but not necessarily the entire line. (Class A)
  2. Full-system ride that requires a rider to stop at each station. (Class B)
  3. Skip-stop ride that only requires a rider to pass through each station. (Class C)

The three classes of rides (A, B and C) are defined by the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee (ANYSRC), created by Peter Samson in 1966. In Class A, "the contestants making the run must traverse completely at least once each segment of right-of-way of the Transit Authority system. Each segment may be traversed either in one continuous transit or in any number of partial transits between stations on the segment." Guinness World Records recognizes what is essentially the Class B rules as the official world record. The only difference between the rides defined by Guinness and the ANYSRC is that per the ANYSRC, rides must be completed on a single fare, while the Guinness rules allow for transfers provided that they "be made by scheduled public transport or on foot."[1]


On May 30, 1940, two days before the IRT, BMT, and IND were unified, Herman Rinke, an electric-railroad buff, became the first person to tour the entire system on a single 5-cent fare, doing it purely as a "sentimental gesture".[2] Rinke rode the system for some 25 hours. Since then, more than 70 others – supposedly recorded in an unofficial file in the MTA Public Relations Department – rode the entire system. Kevin Foster held the Guinness World Record for the full-system ride for over 17 years. He set the mark of 26 hours, 21 minutes on October 25, 1989. Searching for a diversion while training to become the first person to bicycle the entire length of The Great Wall in China, Foster opened up the Guinness Book of World Records to find another challenge. He decided that to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the New York subway system he would spend 85 consecutive hours on the subway, during which time he broke the record for stopping at every station.

Guinness Record times[edit]

Date Record Holder(s) Stations Time Ref.
June 1, 1966 Michael Feldman and James Brown 491[a] 23 hours, 16 minutes [3]
August 3, 1967 Morgan Chu and six others 475 22 hours, 11½ minutes [4]
October 8, 1973 Mayer Wiesen and Charles Emerson 462 21 hours, 8½ minutes [5]
December 12/13, 1988 Rich Temple, Phil Vanner and Tom Murphy 466 29 hours, 47 minutes, 12 seconds [6]
October 25/26, 1989 Kevin Foster 466[b] 26 hours, 21 minutes, 8 seconds [7][8][9]
December 28/29, 2006 Stefan Karpinski, Bill Amarosa Jr., Michael Boyle, Brian Brockmeyer, Jason Laska and Andrew Weir 468 24 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds [10]
January 22/23, 2009 Matt Ferrisi and Chris Solarz 468 22 hours, 52 minutes, 36 seconds [11][12]
November 18/19, 2013 Andi James, Steve Wilson, Martin Hazel, Peter Smyth, Glen Bryant and Adham Fisher 468 22 hours, 26 minutes, 02 seconds [13][14][15]
January 16, 2015 Matthew Ahn 468[c] 21 hours, 49 minutes, 35 seconds [16][17]
July 22, 2016 Matthew Ahn 469 21 hours, 28 minutes, 14 seconds [18][19]

There are 472 stations in the system (which must all be visited for the Class B record) and 424 multi-station complexes (necessary for the Class C record), on 28 routes.[20] Challengers cover 662 miles of track in passenger service, while only being able to go to the toilet at 80 of the stations. All of the official record holders, except one, have held the record for 468 stations, since all official records are from before September 2015, when the 7 Subway Extension opened. One record holder has the record for the 469 stations, after the opening of the 7 Subway Extension but before the January 2017 opening of the Second Avenue Subway.[18] As of 2018 there were no record holders for the 472-station challenge.

The Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee mandates that rides must be completed on a single fare. The Guinness record rules allow a rider to exit and re-enter the system during the course of the run, and contestants may walk or take "scheduled public transport" between stations. According to the Guinness rules, "the use of private motor vehicles, taxis or any other form of privately arranged transport (bicycles, skateboards, etc.) is not allowed."[21] Matthew Ahn's attempts, for instance, use the out-of-system transfers allowed under the Guinness rules.[17] The complete Guinness rules can be found on the Rapid Transit Challenge website and are similar to the rules for the London Underground's Tube Challenge.[22]

The Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee is not an official body and does not validate any record attempts, nor does the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

468 stations[edit]

On August 23–24, 2006, Donald Badaczewski and Matt Green made a run setting the skip-stop record. During their run, a Class C attempt as defined by the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee, they were required to pass through, but not necessarily stop at, each station. Thus they utilized express trains where possible to save time. They did this on a single fare, not exiting the system until the completion of the race. They posted a time of 24 hours, 2 minutes, breaking the previous Class C record of 25 hours, 11 minutes for this feat set in 1998 by Salvatore Babones and Mike Falsetta. Metro broke the story of this Class C record.[23][24][25][26] An AM New York article suggested that the news environment at the time created a perfect opening for such a lighthearted story.[27] Pundits frequently questioned the pair on how they had relieved themselves during their journey. The two invariably answered that they had "held it" or "toughed it out," despite the fact that "it was tough."

On December 28–29, 2006, a Class B attempt was made by former classmates from Regis High School in Manhattan, representing all five boroughs of New York City, with a sixth member from New Jersey. In the press they were nicknamed "The Subway Six": Bill Amarosa was a lifelong railfan and had discussed a record attempt while they were in high school, but it was a conversation at their 10-year reunion on June 17, 2006, that sparked planning for the attempt. From conception to execution, the record attempt took six months. Guinness World Records confirmed the record five months afterward and sent the team their official record certificate after nine months.[28]

On January 22, 2010, Matt Ferrisi and Chris Solarz set a new record with an official time of 22:52:36, confirmed by Guinness World Records on September 17, 2010.[11]

On November 18–19, 2013, the record was beaten by a team of six Britons, including Glen Bryant from Emsworth, with a new time of 22 hours, 26 minutes, and 2 seconds. The competitors used an unusual route, achieving a time 26 minutes shorter than the former record, as confirmed by Guinness World Records on May 30, 2014.[14][16] Three members of the British team were former record holders for the Tube Challenge, and thus became the first people to achieve the feat on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.[29]

On January 19, 2015, a new record was set by Matthew Ahn, taking the 468-station record. He began his trip at Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue and finished at Flushing–Main Street, both in Queens.[16]

469 stations[edit]

After the 7 Subway Extension opened in September 2015, Ahn's previous record was invalidated. On July 23, 2016, he completed another such trip, and despite the addition of one station, he beat his previous record while completing the new 469-station challenge.[30] This record was officially validated by Guinness World Records on August 26, 2016.[18] He began his trip at Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street in Queens and finished at Flushing–Main Street.[31]

In popular culture[edit]

A 2004 Class B attempt to traverse the system was documented in a short film entitled New Lots.[32]

A 2003 Class B attempt was the main topic of a Discovery Times Channel documentary on the subway.[33]

Other systems[edit]

The corresponding record for the London Underground (Tube Challenge) has had many holders since 1960. London and New York have always been the most notable systems for this record. Between 1967 and 1992, records for a few other subway networks were considered, attempted and appeared in the Guinness Books. Since 1993, only the London Underground record has been published with decreasing regularity, and Guinness only considered London and New York for this record category.[34] However, since 2011, other systems have been considered again.

The first other network to be granted a record was the Paris Métro; Alan Paul Jenkins achieved a time of 11 hours and 13 minutes for travelling to 270 stations (with 7 closed) on August 30, 1967.[35] The next record was set on 13 August 2011 by Adham Fisher, who visited 300 stations in 13 hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds.[36]

The Berlin U-Bahn had its first record set on May 2, 2014, by Michael Wurm, Henning Colsman-Freyberger, Rudolf von Grot and Oliver Ziemek. They visited the 173 stations in 7 hours, 33 minutes and 15 seconds.[37] This was beaten by Adham Fisher on May 26, 2017, with a new time of 6 hours, 53 minutes and 24 seconds.[38]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Between the 1966 and 1988 records, half of the BMT Myrtle Avenue Line (9 stations), the IRT Third Avenue Line (14 stations), the BMT Culver Shuttle (3 stations), and part of the BMT Jamaica Line (5 stations) were closed. The Harlem–148th Street station, the Chrystie Street Connection (2 stations), and the Archer Avenue lines (3 stations) were opened. This resulted in a net loss of 25 stations.
  2. ^ The 63rd Street lines (3 stations) were opened on 29 October 1989, giving 469 stations. Dean Street was closed on 10 September 1995, giving 468 stations.
  3. ^ Between 2015 and the next record in 2016, the 34th Street–Hudson Yards station was opened.


  1. ^ "Rules". Rapid Transit Challenge. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  2. ^ "Guiness [sic] World Record Subway Riders". April 10, 2012.
  3. ^ Guinness Book of Records (16th ed.). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1969. p. 183.
  4. ^ Guinness Book of Records 1974 (20th ed.). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1973. p. 152.
  5. ^ Guinness Book of Records 1975 (21st ed.). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1974. p. 148.
  6. ^ Guinness Book of Records 1990. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 1989. p. 193.
  7. ^ Guinness Book of Records 1991. Bantam Books, by arrangement with Guinness Publishing. 1990. p. 300.
  8. ^ Adams, Robyn (Monday, October 23, 1989) This Subway Ride is 1 for the Books. The American. Waterbury, Connecticut.
  9. ^ Adams, Robyn (Tuesday, November 21, 1989) "Great Subway Rider" Makes Record Book. The American. Waterbury, Connecticut.
  10. ^ Chung, Jen (December 29, 2006). "Another Attempt to Break Subway Riding Record". Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Millat, Caitlin; Martinez, Jose (January 24, 2009). "Pair breaks subway world record". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  12. ^ "Travelling New York City Subway in shortest time (underground)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  13. ^ Awford, Jenny (December 10, 2013). "Bournemouth tube challenger breaks record for visiting New York's 468 subway stations in fastest time". Daily Echo. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Treye Green (July 3, 2014). "Englishman Glen Bryant Visits Every NYC Subway Stop In 24 Hours, Breaks World Record With Feat". International Business Times. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Tobias Salinger (July 8, 2014). "MTA Not Thrilled for New Guinness Subway Record Holders". Commercial Observer.
  16. ^ a b c "Law student breaks New York City subway all-stations speed record". Guinness World Records. May 20, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "A Guinness World Record Diary: Dr. Strangeline, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee and Love the MTA". SupraStructure. March 26, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Plitt, Amy (August 29, 2016). "Meet a New Yorker who traveled to every single subway stop in less than 24 hours". Curbed NY. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Collier, Neil; O’Neill, Shane (August 29, 2016). "A Record Ride on New York's Subway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  20. ^ "Subway Service Guide" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  21. ^ "Solo straphanger sets new, all-station subway world record".
  22. ^ "Rules". Rapid Transit Challenge. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  23. ^ Zimmer, Amy (August 22, 2006). "The next stop is..." Metro. Archived from the original on August 23, 2006.
  24. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (August 23, 2006). "Two Adventurers, One Subway System, And a Challenge to Break a Riding Record". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  25. ^ "American Morning". CNN. August 24, 2006.
  26. ^ "[Untitled]". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 27, 2006. Retrieved September 6, 2006.
  27. ^ Bennett, Chuck (August 24, 2006). "Subway riding pals beat record". amNewYork. Archived from the original on September 30, 2006.
  28. ^ "Official Guinness World Records™ Certificate". Rapid Transit Challenge. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  29. ^ "Tube Challenge". April 23, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  30. ^ Licea, Melkorka (July 23, 2016). "NYC's fastest subway rider beats his own all-stations speed record". New York Post. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  31. ^ Snowden, Scott (September 6, 2016). "Solo straphanger sets new, all-station subway world record". Time Out New York. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  32. ^ New Lots. Appealing Industries. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  33. ^ Ringside TV (March 23, 2012), New York Underground: "The Ultimate Ride" Scenes (2003), archived from the original on March 24, 2012, retrieved July 26, 2016
  34. ^ "Guinness World Records Attempt: Paris Subway Challenge". Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  35. ^ Guinness Book of Records 1971 (17th ed.). Guinness World Records. 1970. p. 317. ISBN 9780806900049. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  36. ^ Yildiz, Alev (June 11, 2015). "Il a parcouru toutes les stations du métro parisien en un temps record". (in French). Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  37. ^ "Berliner U-Bahnrekord steht im Guinness-Buch". B.Z. November 12, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  38. ^ "Adham Fisher auf Jede Antwort Zählt, 22 March 2018". Jede Antwort zählt. Archived from the original on December 17, 2021 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]