Main content


4 Extra Debut. Sci-fi sparks wonderful ideas of our future journeys to work, but present day reality leaves a lot to be desired. From 2018.

It’s over 175 years since the word "commuter" was used for the first time. (The word does not in fact describe a traveller, it describes a transaction: regular travellers on the railroad into Manhattan were given the opportunity to "commute" their individual tickets into a season pass. Ever since, commuters have been both travellers and revenue stream.)

Today - our great cities inhale and exhale millions of commuters, who start their journey in the darkness of winter mornings in the suburbs, resurface blearily in the heart of the city and return to long tucked-in children in darkness.

It wasn't meant to be like this. Matthew Sweet looks at our imagined world of fantasy journeys and asks if driverless cars, monorails, or high speed transport systems might deliver them in the future.

Producer: Mark Rickards

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2018.

Available now

57 minutes

Last on

Sun 9 May 2021 01:00


  • Sat 19 May 2018 20:00
  • Fri 31 May 2019 21:00
  • Tue 4 May 2021 11:00
  • Tue 4 May 2021 21:00
  • Sat 8 May 2021 13:00
  • Sun 9 May 2021 01:00



Discover more seriously interesting radio documentaries.