Beyond general violence, spit is a serious job hazard of the urban transit worker—just ask the bus driver who got 60 days off after being expectorated on—so naturally something must be done to keep transit workers from facing the wet brunt of straphanger rage. In London and Boston transit workers are given DNA kits to preserve fluid samples in case unruly passengers spit on them, and now, according to the Daily News, the Brooklyn DA wants New York to follow suit.
Seriously, there is a lot of spit being spat on MTA workers. According to the Authority, "Bus and subway workers were spat upon 145 times between January and October — about 14 times a month." There were "139 salivary assaults during the same time period last year." Also? "Salivary assaults!"
The Brooklyn DA says "We're going to look into [DNA kits] and talk to the NYPD about it," while the MTA and NYPD are staying mum on the idea. Meanwhile, the president of TWU Local 100 John Samuelsen is gung ho, saying he brought the concept to the attention of Jay Walder about a year ago. "Our bus operators are spat upon with unnerving frequency," Samuelsen said. "The MTA should be taking every single step it can to protect bus operators and this would be a positive step."
In Boston, saliva samples are kept and matched with police databases to see if the spitter can be matched. In theory a program here would do the same. But why stop there? Why not just make straphangers turn over a DNA sample each time they buy a new Metrocard?