For years, riders have been clamoring for Metro to give them better grips, especially for when trains are standing-room-only during rush periods and when trains stop abruptly, sending anchorless riders hurtling into other passengers.
The agency is listening. Metro is testing different styles of overhead handles in rail cars to give riders standing in the aisles something to improve their balance and comfort. Metro has been operating eight cars with overhead handles made of nylon or vinyl for several weeks. The straps are black, yellow or gray and hang 10 to 12 inches from overhead bars. The black straps are made of nylon mesh; the others, in yellow and two shades of gray, are vinyl. The tests are being done on the Red and Orange lines, Metro's busiest.
Metro wants to see how well the straps hold up and get rider feedback before picking one style to install on at least 100 cars by the end of the year. Metro's has 1,136 rail cars. The agency expects to have all 184 of its newest rail cars outfitted with the stainless steel handles by December.