As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Bloomberg Opinion will be running a series of features by our columnists that consider the long-term consequences of the crisis. This column is part of a package on the future of transportation. For more, see David Fickling on why passengers will pay the price for the airline industry’s troubles and Therese Raphael on saving the London Underground.
History is littered with radical forecasts about what the future of 21st-century urban transit might bring. Isaac Asimov’s short stories promised us sentient self-driving cars, “Back to the Future” imagined hover-boards, and “The Jetsons” predicted jet-packs. It turns out the transportation challenge facing the world’s mega-cities in 2020 looks rather more prosaic: How to help people resume their normal commutes without risking an uncontrolled Covid-19 flare-up or a return to congested, polluted streets.