Pantsless passengers board light rail in their underwear

In the strangest of coincidences dozens of passengers seemed to have caught a case of forgetfulness Sunday when they found themselves aboard the Valley Metro Light Rail without pants.

Unbeknownst to other riders, the pantsless passengers were participating in an annual worldwide hoax called the No Pants Subway Ride. The event originated on the New York City subway system by Improv Everywhere, a “prank collective” founded in the city.

In 2008 Improv Everywhere invited other cities around the world to participate in riding  mass transit systems while wearing only their underwear.

“2008 was the first year that Phoenix got the light rail so it was perfect that it coincided with their invitation for other cities to participate,” event co-organizer and ASU alumna Heather Herr said.

This is Phoenix’s fourth year participating.

Herr explained the point of the event is to act completely normal and discreet as though one had just forgotten to wear their pants on that particular day.

Improv AZ members and those who learned about the event through Facebook or word of mouth could choose to meet at the light rail stations located at 19th and Montebello avenues in Phoenix or Sycamore and Main Street in Mesa.

Both groups exited the light rail at the Mill Avenue and 3rd Street light rail station, where many continued the no-pants theme to bars along Mill.

Participants who began their ride at Montebello and 19th Avenue station were greeted at the station by honking horns and wide-eyed pedestrians snapping photos with their cell phones from across the street.

When asked why they were in their underwear by other passengers, participants had various explanations for their attire – or lack thereof.

“We just forgot our pants today,” ASU alumnus Jared West said.

The day’s undergarment selections ranged anywhere from Batman and Superman boy-cut shorts, biker shorts and “tighty whities,” to hot-pink spandex briefs.

“It’s one of those things that sometimes you don’t think about,” West said. “You walk out of the house and you’re like, ‘Oh crap. I forgot my pants,’ and I didn’t have time to go back and get them.”

Wearing nothing but a suit shirt, bow tie and a pair of briefs, photography sophomore Daniel Mariotti explained he was on his way to buy pants after forgetting his at home.

“I was in a hurry,” Mariotti said. “I have an interview right now. Going to an interview in your underwear would just be weird.”

Other passengers, like Phoenix resident Danny Kohl, said he was taking advantage of the weather.

“I woke up this morning and I thought it was a really nice day so I took my pants off,” Kohl explained of his intentional choice to sport a pair of boxers. “I decided to go for a walk and then I ran into other people without any pants on. It’s just a crazy, crazy coincidence.”

The hoax had some passengers, such as Phoenix resident Anthony Fema, questioning their own choice of attire that day.

After realizing he was surrounded by several passengers riding the train without any pants, Fema mused to himself about the irony of wishing he were in his underwear as well.

“Never has the urge to conform been so enticing,” he said. “Everyone else isn’t wearing pants, so why am I?”

Reach the reporter at

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.