Photo by Jaume Meneses on Flickr.

Many Metro riders, especially shorter ones, know that at rush hour it can be hard to find a handhold. Barcelona’s Metro seems to have hit upon a solution.

While in Barcelona recently, I noticed some rather innovative stanchions in some of their railcars. Their solution is simple. While the top and the bottom of the stanchion are a single pole just like in DC, the center section splits into three &mdash allowing more people to comfortably hold on in the same amount of space. This appears to be a solution that could be retrofit into existing cars by cutting out the center of an existing stanchion and welding on these midsection portions.

This innovation gives riders three times as much pole space to hold on without taking up too much room in the car. It seems like a great way to help shorter riders. And it makes it less likely that one pole hog can occupy an entire stanchion.

Another nice feature I noticed were the next train arrival screens. The Barcelona system uses waiting time countdown clocks that count down to the second. And they’re pretty accurate, too. This one shows the next train is expected in 1 minute and 41 seconds, which is pretty much exactly when it arrived.

Steve Offutt has been working at the confluence of business and environment for almost 20 years, with experience in climate change solutions, green building, business-government partnerships, transportation demand management, and more. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children and is a cyclist, pedestrian, transit rider and driver.