Deregulation had a profound impact on the trucking market that resulted in massive upheaval for the incumbents. If you look at the top 100 trucking companies that existed before deregulation, only about 20% are still around. The rest went away because they couldn’t survive in a free and competitive market.
What we left was a path that would make Joseph Schumpeter proud: creative destruction at its finest. New players were born sporting new business models. The freight broker also became a factor in the market.
The most successful carriers in the LTL sector were non-unionized carriers that were able to optimize their networks and gain density in lanes to a point that they could offer scheduled services and time-definite services. This in turn allowed those carriers to gain network density and offer faster services as a result. Gone were the days of two-week coast-to-coast transit times: from West Coast to East Coast in just five days became the longest transit time most shippers would tolerate. Without the deregulated period’s raised expectations and improved service, Amazon would have never emerged.