Josh Kramer

A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

What will the transportation modes of the future feel like? Will they be utopian like Tomorrowland, with glittering, quiet, and miraculous vehicles; or gritty and dangerous, as in Blade Runner? Our lived experience in the future might be more banal: When commuters can fly over the city in an autonomous electric air taxi or hurtle across the country in a high-speed maglev train, they’ll still be worrying about whether they’re running late.

This cartoon is a vision of the reality of future-commuting across a megalopolis full of wondrous transportation technology. From the never-landing airships to the anti-spill cup holders, as many details as possible are taken from imaginative essays and promotional materials about the near-future. Most of this technology, and these headaches, already exist.

Technology won’t change everything. From ancient Rome to the present day, the transit ideas that shaped cities tended to enable a half-hour commute. Will that ideal hold for urban planning’s future as distances and speeds increase? Questions about equity are also here to stay: Who provides transit, and who gets to use it?

Recently as I was walking in my neighborhood, an autonomous car sidled up to me. It was a tricky intersection: a two-way stop that can be hazardous to cross. But the test vehicle was unfazed. As it nosed into the crosswalk and turned, I watched the steering wheel spin beneath the “driver’s” hovering, motionless fingers.

Is this what utopia looks like?

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Why Not Just Stop Paying Rent?

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  2. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  3. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  4. Coronavirus

    Why Asian Countries Have Succeeded in Flattening the Curve

    To help flatten the curve in the Covid-19 outbreak, officials at all levels of government are asking people to stay home. Here's what’s worked, and what hasn't.

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×