I have decided to wind down Signal Problems.
This wasn’t an easy decision. But for the last several weeks, I’ve tried to balance a full-time job I enjoy—and which provides little niceties such as a salary and health insurance—with my responsibilities to write the best subway newsletter I can. Unfortunately, I simply can’t do both well, particularly if I wish to have some free time every once in a while, which I must confess I do enjoy from time to time. This, combined with other reasons I will explain in the final edition, convinced me the time is right to end Signal Problems.
This isn’t the last email you’ll get from me. Over the next few weeks, I will send out three more editions, although they’ll be slightly different than those to which you’re accustomed. First, a Q&A with one of the smartest transportation thinkers out there, Yonah Freemark, on why he believes politics ought to play a bigger role in setting transportation policy and what this means for the MTA. Second, I’ll do an exit interview mailbag. And third, there will be a final sendoff.
To all the paid subscribers: thank you, thank you, thank you so much for your support. It meant far more to me than the raw monetary value.
If you’re an annual subscriber, you’ll get a prorated refund after the final edition. If you’re a monthly subscriber, you simply won’t be charged after that.
About that exit interview mailbag: I thought it would be interesting to let my readers conduct my exit interview, but I need questions. They can be about anything. The subway beat, the newsletter, my opinions about New York, journalism, big picture questions about what I learned, the future, the past, the nature of time, have at it. Simply reply to this email with your question.
In the meantime, here’s a question from a reader I’ve been meaning to address for some time:
I’m a recent college grad and I am trying to figure out what to do next. I’m a native New Yorker and have always loved transit, and I care deeply about the state of the system. I was hoping you might have some advice as to where someone like me can make the most difference, or at least support the folks working on these challenges. At the MTA, from the inside? A transit-oriented nonprofit? Local or state government? Should I give up and work on alternative modes like bikes or scooters? What’s the best way to get involved in mobility in NYC? -Alex Bitterman
I get a version of this question about every month or so from an eager young go-getter who wants to help make NYC transportation work better but isn’t quite sure how.
Rather than try to answer it myself, I thought it would be much more informative to ask some folks who would know much better than me:
Andy Byford, President of New York City Transit
Jon Orcutt of Bike New York, formerly policy director at NYC DOT and alum of various non-profits including Transportation Alternatives, TransitCenter, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign
New York City Councilman Brad Lander
Larry Gould, former planner at New York City Transit and currently at the firm Nelson Nygaard
I’ve published their responses to Alex’s question at this separate page. I encourage everyone to check out their responses in full. It’s good career advice in general.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back in your inbox later this week. Don’t forget to send in your exit interview questions!