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Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation. Poole, an MIT-trained engineer, has advised the Ronald Reagan, the George H.W. Bush, the Clinton, and the George W. Bush administrations.
In the field of surface transportation, Poole has advised the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the White House Office of Policy Development, National Economic Council, Government Accountability Office, and state DOTs in numerous states.
Poole's 1988 policy paper proposing privately financed toll lanes to relieve congestion directly inspired California's landmark private tollway law (AB 680), which authorized four pilot toll projects including the successful 91 Express Lanes in Orange County. More than 20 other states and the federal government have since enacted similar public-private partnership legislation. In 1993, Poole oversaw a study that coined the term HOT (high-occupancy toll) Lanes, a term which has become widely accepted since.
California Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Poole to the California's Commission on Transportation Investment and he also served on the Caltrans Privatization Advisory Steering Committee, where he helped oversee the implementation of AB 680.
From 2003 to 2005, he was a member of the Transportation Research Board's special committee on the long-term viability of the fuel tax for highway finance. In 2008 he served as a member of the Texas Study Committee on Private Participation in Toll Roads, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry. In 2009, he was a member of an Expert Review Panel for Washington State DOT, advising on a $1.5 billion toll mega-project. In 2010, he was a member of the transportation transition team for Florida's Governor-elect Rick Scott. He is a member of two TRB standing committees: Congestion Pricing and Managed Lanes.
Poole is a member of the Government Accountability Office's National Aviation Studies Advisory Panel and he has testified before the House and Senate's aviation subcommittees on numerous occasions. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Poole consulted the White House Domestic Policy Council and the leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
He has also advised the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, White House Office of Policy Development, National Performance Review, National Economic Council, and the National Civil Aviation Review Commission on aviation issues. Poole is a member of the Critical Infrastructure Council of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and of the Air Traffic Control Association.
Poole was among the first to propose the commercialization of the U.S. air traffic control system, and his work in this field has helped shape proposals for a U.S. air traffic control corporation. A version of his corporation concept was implemented in Canada in 1996 and was more recently endorsed by several former top FAA administrators.
Poole's studies also launched a national debate on airport privatization in the United States. He advised both the FAA and local officials during the 1989-90 controversy over the proposed privatization of Albany (NY) Airport. His policy research on this issue helped inspire Congress' 1996 enactment of the Airport Privatization Pilot Program and the privatization of Indianapolis' airport management under Mayor Steve Goldsmith.
Robert Poole co-founded the Reason Foundation with Manny Klausner and Tibor Machan in 1978, and served as its president and CEO from then until the end of 2000. He was a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team in 2000. Over the years, he has advised the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations on privatization and transportation policy.
Poole is credited as the first person to use the term "privatization" to refer to the contracting-out of public services and is the author of the first-ever book on privatization, Cutting Back City Hall, published by Universe Books in 1980. He is also editor of the books Instead of Regulation: Alternatives to Federal Regulatory Agencies (Lexington Books, 1981), Defending a Free Society (Lexington Books, 1984), and Unnatural Monopolies (Lexington Books, 1985). He also co-edited the book Free Minds & Free Markets: 25 Years of Reason (Pacific Research Institute, 1993).
Poole has written hundreds of articles, papers, and policy studies on privatization and transportation issues. His popular writings have appeared in national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He has also been a guest on network television programs such as Good Morning America, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, and the CBS Evening News. Poole writes a monthly column on transportation issues for Public Works Financing.
Poole earned his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and did graduate work in operations research at New York University.
- Europe Seeking to Reform Airport Subsidies
January 31, 2014, 9:20am
- PreCheck Expansion Raises Questions
January 29, 2014, 3:12pm
- Global Data Puts US Traffic Congestion in Perspective
January 3, 2014, 11:46am
- Managed Lanes Networks Gaining Traction, as Projects Proliferate
December 30, 2013, 9:23am
- Is the Increased TSA Security Fee Actually a Tax?
December 23, 2013, 9:45am
- What to Make of Struggling P3 Toll Roads
December 12, 2013, 12:15pm
- Mileage Based User Fees or Road Usage Charges—Some Thoughtful Commentary
December 9, 2013, 6:10pm
- TSA Behavior Detection Blasted by GAO
December 5, 2013, 10:40am
- The Search for a National Freight Policy
December 2, 2013, 2:41pm
- Support Builds for U.S. ATC Corporation
November 27, 2013, 1:27pm
- Proposed National Bicycle Route System Fails Cost-Benefit Analysis Test
November 22, 2013, 2:32pm
- How Government Wastes Our Time in Travel
October 30, 2013, 7:01am
- Chicago Stops Midway Privatization Deal, Time for FAA to Give Other Large Airports a Chance
September 10, 2013, 9:00pm
- In Blocking the Merger Between US Airways and American Airlines, Department of Justice Shows It Doesn't Understand Aviation
August 29, 2013, 6:00am
- Air Traffic Control Consolidation Would Save Billions
April 3, 2013, 10:00am
- How to Reform and Get More Value From Federal Transportation Programs
January 9, 2013, 1:00pm
- Toll Collection Cost Comparable with Fuel Tax Collection Cost, Finds New Reason Study
November 27, 2012, 10:00am
- Airport Screening Did Not Enable the 9/11 Attacks
October 8, 2012, 11:00pm
- TIFIA Changes In Transportation Bill Are a Step In the Right Direction
Why changes to TIFIA restore the program to what it was originally intended to be
July 10, 2012, 8:53am
- Transportation Bill a Big Disappointment
June 29, 2012, 11:43am
- Atlanta Needs a Second Airport
June 26, 2012, 9:08am
- Depreciation Policy For Those Congress Likes
June 22, 2012, 5:43pm
- Why Motorists Should Pay by the Mile
Reconsidering a vehicle miles traveled tax
June 4, 2012, 2:34pm
- Finding a Better Way to Pay for Highways
April 2, 2012, 5:45pm
- The Highway Bill Debate Sheds Light on the Future of Transportation Funding
March 5, 2012, 3:10pm
- Preserving the Highway Trust Fund and Paying for Transit Projects
February 9, 2012, 3:49pm
- Virginia Needs to be Cautious and Not Ruin Its Public-Private Partnership Track Record
Robert Poole and Shirley Ybarra
February 2, 2012, 10:50am
- Poll Shows How People Think We Should Pay for Roads, Rail and Other Infrastructure
December 20, 2011, 7:08pm
- TSA's PreCheck Trusted Traveler Program Is a Good Idea, But Has Some Big Flaws
November 7, 2011, 12:01pm
- "Get Your Freak On" Baggage Screener Gets Disciplined by TSA
October 26, 2011, 9:57pm
- TSA Isn't Looking for Guns In Checked Luggage - And You Don't Want Them To Start
October 24, 2011, 3:32pm
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter: Airport Security 10 Years After 9/11
Taking Stock of Aviation Security Since 9/11
September 9, 2011, 2:54pm
- Setting the Facts Straight on Tampa-to-Orlando High-Speed Rail
August 17, 2011, 6:36pm
- FAA Shutdown And Our Air Traffic Control Funding System Are Absurd
July 28, 2011, 6:15pm
- Sleeping Reagan Air Traffic Controller Shows FAA's Failures
March 25, 2011, 12:42pm
- Florida Supreme Court Rules With Gov. Scott, Tampa-Orlando High-Speed Rail Appears to be Canceled
March 4, 2011, 2:41pm
- Wishful Thinking Won't Make Florida High-Speed Rail a Wise Choice
March 1, 2011, 3:12pm
- LaHood Gives Florida Gov. Scott Yet Another Week to Take Rail Money
February 28, 2011, 9:09am
- Florida Gov. Scott Rejects Federal Funding for Flawed Orlando to Tampa High-Speed Rail Plan
February 16, 2011, 4:59pm
- Rethinking the FAA Budget
February 7, 2011, 2:20pm
- TSA Blocks Private Screeners Despite Success and Good Reasons to Outsource Airport Security
January 31, 2011, 12:13pm
- Keep Highway Spending Within Our Means
January 3, 2011, 12:49am
- The Case for Profiling Air Travelers
December 10, 2010, 11:38am
- Only 400 of 2,200 Body Scanners Are In Place at Airports So Outrage at TSA Likely to Grow as More Are Installed
November 24, 2010, 10:05pm
- TSA Needs a Risk-Based Approach to Airport Security
November 17, 2010, 2:13pm
- Still Fighting the Last War on Air Cargo
November 2, 2010, 8:55pm
- Reducing Traffic on I-405 in Los Angeles
August 19, 2010, 11:18am
- Modernizing the Interstate System and Rethinking How We Spend Federal Gas Tax Money
August 3, 2010, 7:10am
- Misrepresenting the Benefits of High-Speed Rail
July 9, 2010, 11:34am
- The Truth About Toll Roads and Non-Compete Agreements
June 29, 2010, 5:31pm
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