You’re standing on a MetroLink train, scanning the aisles for a seat. Right behind you, next to the doors, is a waist-high metal box. Hmmm…”Do Not Sit Here”? But it’s conveniently seat shaped! If you are standing there with a bike, the temptation is terrible! Squash that urge, fellow riders. The box actually does serve a very important purpose: helping stop the train.
The box holds a quantity of sand that is systematically released to increase friction on the tracks. From Etta Gibson in MetroLink Training:
The Train Operator can apply sand by pressing the sand button that is located on the Operator’s console; or by applying the Track Brake, or the Emergency Brake. Sand is automatically dropped when the Train Operator applies the Track Brake, the Emergency Brake, or when the wheels spin or slide.
When the Operator presses the sand button on their console, or applies the Emergency Brake, sand is dropped from the sandbox through a nozzle by compressed air onto the rails ahead of the leading wheels, which results in added traction that slows the train, or stop the wheels from spinning or sliding.
Basically, the sandbox serves a very similar role as the trucks that dump salt or sand on icy roads. Therefore, the sandbox is definitely not a seat. It’s an integral part of the train’s safety mechanisms. So next time the temptation rises to sit your work-weary self on the sandbox, let it pass. The sandbox is hard at work ensuring you a safe ride home.