The National Academies

NCFRP 02 [Final]

Impacts of Public Policy on the Freight Transportation System

  Project Data
Funds: $390,000
Research Agency: ICF
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Ang-Olson
Effective Date: 1/22/2008
Completion Date: 1/31/2010
Comments: Published as NCFRP Report 6.

Public policies that affect transportation often focus on the movement of people with less attention to the movement of goods.  When freight is considered, the focus is often on one mode, rather than on all components of the freight system.


The freight system is largely a private-sector enterprise, but public policy decisions have major impacts on its development and operations.  Policy decisions potentially impacting the freight system can be categorized in such areas as: energy, environment, finance and investment, incentives, institutional and programmatic structure, markets and market change, modal choice, public health, real estate and land use, regulation, safety, security, social issues, subsidies and user fees, tax structure, and trade and national competitiveness. 


These decisions often have intended and unintended consequences for one or more sectors of the freight transportation system.  Policymakers would benefit from research that identifies the impacts that public policies can have on the freight transportation system.


The objective of this research is to identify intended and unintended impacts (either direct or indirect) of a broad array of public policies on the freight system.  The intent is to promote a better understanding of these complex relationships and foster appreciation for how public policies affect the freight transportation system.


Status:  The results of this project have been published as NCFRP Report 6.  It is also available electronically at



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