May 14, 2010

Sighted: The Hanging Straps of MetroLink

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Straphangers Wanted.

Seen these guys around lately?  Maybe not.  Actually, they’ve been installed in a MetroLink train for year now.  These cloth or vinyl hanging straps are one of the most ubiquitous symbols of  public transit, dating back to the 1800’s and steam locomotives.  Of course, they serve a utilitarian purpose; they give you something to hold onto when the train is crowded, if you are shorter than the bar, you have a bike to hold onto, or you are just prone to falling over (check!).

The initiative to install hanging straps came from our Light Rail Vehicle Engineer Steve Reyland.  Not surprisingly, when I asked Steve why he pushed for this project, he answered, “I rode the train when it was crowded!”  Metro is currently testing two types of straps: cloth and vinyl.  The vinyl ones are a little more expensive, but are easier to wipe down and keep clean.

The hanging straps are currently only in one train car while operations and maintenance gives them a trial run.  So far, Reyland says, the feedback has been positive.  We’ve seen several instances of people taking photos and posting them on Twitter.

When I went to take a picture of the straps, the gentlemen standing next to me asked what I was doing.  When I explained, he said, “Every train has to have these!”  I agreed with him – I’m a fan of the straps.

What do you think?  How do you like the hanging straps?

9 thoughts on “Sighted: The Hanging Straps of MetroLink”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I like them. When I take my little sisters to events and the cars are so jammed packed they have to stand in the aisle, it’s nice for their little arms to have something to reach up and hang onto!

  2. Jazzy Jeff says:

    Ditto! – Really a public safety idea which should have been there in the beginning! Glad they are finally addressing it!

  3. More straps!

    Also, the bars themselves that the straps are attached to incredibly useful when extended into the standing areas at the ends of the car, and I can’t believe they haven’t been in all cars from the beginning. I and many others use the tiny ledge of the climate system vents in the ceiling as a brace in crowded trains currently!

  4. Jeff says:

    Straps are good! Bring them on!

    Slightly off topic– why don’t MetroLink trains have any seats facing sideways, as trains in other cities do? It seems like it would allow for more standing room/bikes/wheelchairs/strollers, and who likes sitting backwards?

  5. Jimmy says:

    I LOVE the straps! Metro should consider them for every train car/bus. They are so useful! I’m fairly short so it can be a pain to reach up for the metal bar, and when the train is crowded too many people are left standing with nothing to support them.
    @Jeff: Metro cars (I’m assuming) are meant to be reversible so backward seats would exist either way. I do agree with you about sideways seats though. It makes sense to have a few in each car just like the front of a metrobus.

  6. Paul Hohmann says:

    I have used the straps and think they are great. They should be installed in all the cars. They are needed at rush hours, for ball games and other events. A lot of times I prefer to stand anyway, even when seats are open.

  7. ron says:

    i never use them. i want something solid to hold onto. you can’t reliably grab a strap like you can a stanchion or something else solid.

  8. Patrick Richmond says:

    Streetcars once had them many years ago. I’ve ridden MetroLink well before the Shrewsbury line opened, and once those sanding blocks hit the rails, the car stopped violently. Those straps are a good use of public money. Some of the brakes on the MetroLink cars have a mind of their own. Those straps are made of a good strong material. I saw the braking design and oin the 1000 series cars, I wasn’t too happy on what I saw. There was too much leeway in the “shoe” tunnel. If some grease slips into the show tunnels, those shoes could slide and hit the drum pretty hard. And almost violently. I am glad that they installed a cooling system in the braking alighment so brake grabbing is less of a hazzard.

  9. bacdt. says:

    I’m all for the straps.

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