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12 Public and Private Sector Interdependence in Freight Transportation Markets The good performance of the freight sector has been possible because the system ultimately has some flexibility, and, importantly, the portions of the nation's infrastructure that are already severely capacity-constrained are still limited. With a few exceptions, this smooth functioning has been the status quo. This performance has been achieved in the era following the economic deregulation of trucking and rail at the beginning of the 1980s. Prices charged by carriers were driven down by competition and services offered could be more easily created to match customer needs. This has led to complacency about freight system performance that may put decisions to take needed action to forestall future problems at risk. Consequences for Public Sector Officials Given the growing challenge to public sector officials in upholding the public's role in Amer- ica's freight system, it is important to understand where and how these officials can have an impact on this crucial part of the economy. Part of this understanding involves learning about the types of decisions that affect the freight industry, the role of the private sector in freight trans- portation, and how to work together with the private sector to meet the future challenges facing the freight system.