Thirty years ago, Adams (1981) depicted a future UK where everyone was a millionaire lorry driver, simply by extrapolating from contemporary official transport growth assumptions. These assumptions underpinned the ‘predict and provide’ approach which then characterised transport planning. Twenty years later, the New Deal for Transport White Paper (1998) abandoned ‘predict and provide’ as unsustainable. This paper argues that the same growth assumptions that Adams took to their logical (absurd) conclusion have re-emerged to define both transport and the drivers of transport demand. While non-aviation transport is supposed to be carbon-neutral by 2050, the implied reductions in emissions rely on an absolute decoupling of transport demand and its drivers for which there is no evidence in current planning. Targets rely on optimistic, narrowly framed technology forecasts and behaviour change assumptions which appear highly unlikely in the present socio-political climate. Moreover, such is the cost of mitigating these tensions between economic growth and other concerns, it is argued that the targeted outcomes of current policy are as undesirable as they are unlikely. The paper concludes by calling for a transport policy which considers mobility in an integrated, holistic fashion, rather than merely as a dimension of economic growth.

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