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SHOT has a fine tradition of encouraging scholars to reach audiences beyond the academy and to seek to influence policy. But if our field is to continue to have this kind of wider relevance, we need to think harder about the purposes and methods of the public history of technology. By taking the history of transport as an exemplar, this essay argues for a 'usable past' that engages with concerns about the social equity and ecological sustainability of present-day trends in technological consumption. Engaging with the stories that people tell about their mobility choices opens up a critical role for scholars in scrutinizing assumptions about the historical trajectory of transport technologies. But simply revealing the disconnections between today's 'techno-tales' and historical realities is not enough—we need to work harder at exploiting established and new media to communicate with public and policy audiences.