Seen in many new subway train models, these poles are split into multiple handles so that more people can hold onto them at the same time, and also prevents one rude leaning passenger from obstructing the entire pole.
(Contest administrator note: To do this in under 6 months and $100,000, Metro would have to start by doing this as a pilot in a few trains only.)
I believe that split stanchions would be a significant benefit for riders, especially in crowded conditions. Most older railcars have clusters of three vertical stanchions at the ends, which makes navigating through them a bit tricky and often discourages riders from evenly distributing through the car. Replacing these with one or two split stanchions would free up walking space without losing surface area for riders to hold.
Split stanchions also solves the issue of one rude rider leaning against a pole, preventing anyone else from holding on.