The Invisible System

A recent report on the impact of public policy decisions on freight sheds light on a system that is invisible to most Americans, and on policy decisions that may have unexpected consequences:

“The freight system is largely a private-sector enterprise, but public policy decisions have major impacts on its development and operations. To a large degree, the system is invisible to most Americans, and to most people, the phrase “transportation policy” is usually associated with passenger transportation. Even for most transportation officials, the freight transportation system receives little thought…. ICF International was asked to examine a wide range of public policy decisions made since 1980, as well as some policies currently being debated but not yet enacted, in order to reveal the numerous ways that government policy decisions have affected (or could affect) the freight system. In addition to identifying freight system impacts, the report also assesses the extent to which such impacts were unexpected by the relevant decision makers.”