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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.
- Ronald Reagan and the Privatization Revolution
Reviewing Reagan's outsourcing legacy
June 8, 2004
- Addressing the "Big Dig Syndrome"
Transportation projects have credibility problem
May 14, 2004
- What the Traffic Will Bear
Want the fast lane? Pay for it
May 10, 2004
- Hybrids in Carpool Lanes: A Nonstarter
Several drawbacks to plan
April 14, 2004
- FAA's Efforts Fall Short
Market prices for air traffic would help modernize system
April 1, 2004
- Texas Sets the Pace in Highway Finance
State shows how to finance, build, operate new highways
March 15, 2004
- Better Than HOT Lanes?
HOT lanes better than ramp metering
March 15, 2004
- HOT Lanes Advance in Seven States
Toll lanes make major gains
March 12, 2004
- Corridors for Toll Truckways
Suggested Locations for Pilot Projects
Robert Poole and Peter Samuel
February 1, 2004
- The Real Battle Over Air Traffic Control
Privatization at small towers a sticking point
Robert Poole and Dorothy Robyn
November 3, 2003
- Air Traffic Debate About Safety and Efficiency
Pilots work for private companies, why not controllers?
September 27, 2003
- A Win-Win for Our Freeways
Transform carpool lanes to variable-priced toll lanes
August 29, 2003
- Shore Up Existing Security
Equipping all planes with anti-missile devices isn't best strategy
August 22, 2003
- Air Traffic Improvements to Ensure Friendly Skies
How to bring air traffic system into the 21st century
August 18, 2003
- Air Traffic Controllers' Union, Bush at Odds
Battle over "inherently governmental"
June 17, 2003
- Toll Lane Fix for 101 Freeway
Elevated lanes the answer
May 27, 2003
- A Risk Based Airport Security Policy
Robert Poole and George Passantino
May 1, 2003
- Cutbacks In Public Transit Funds Should Compel Acceptance Of User Fees For Transportation
Budget bust should compel acceptance
April 24, 2003
- Why an Air Traffic Control Corporation Makes Sense
March 1, 2003
- HOT Networks
A New Plan for Congestion Relief and Better Transit
Robert Poole and C. Kenneth Orski
February 1, 2003
- Rebuilding the Marquette Interchange Via a Public-private Partnership
Robert Poole, Kevin Soucie, Daryl Fleming and Tom McDaniel
February 1, 2003
- FAA, Controllers Mistaken on Privatization
December 20, 2002
- Gaping Holes in Airport Security
Airports should be allowed to test private screeners
September 19, 2002
- Improving Airport Passenger Screening
September 1, 2002
- Time to Rethink Carpool Lanes
Census shows declining numbers
August 21, 2002
- Commercializing Highways
A "Road-Utility" Paradigm for the 21st Century
August 1, 2002
- Is the End of the Line Near for Amtrak?
$200 million budget gap means changes
July 2, 2002
- Rethinking Checked-Baggage
Robert Poole and Viggo Butler
July 1, 2002
- Bad News as TSA Takes Control
Airport operators want alternatives to TSA
June 26, 2002
- Toll Truckways
A New Path Toward Safer and More Efficient Freight Transportation
Peter Samuel, Robert Poole and Jose Holguin-Veras
June 1, 2002
- Speed Up Airport Security, Issue I.D. Cards
Israel uses trusted-traveler, so should US
January 17, 2002
- Win-Win Approach for 91 Freeway
December 21, 2001
- It's the Mandate, Not the Money
Focus on effective security, not just spending money
December 14, 2001
- False Security
Airport security bill provides costly feel-good security, unrealistic deadlines
December 5, 2001
- For Real Airport Security
Pre-9/11 woes still exist
November 13, 2001
- Don't Federalize Airport Security
Europe, Israel use private screeners, government as regulator
October 24, 2001
- Answer to Airport Security Found in Europe
European countries tried and abandoned federalized approach
October 11, 2001
- Make Airports Responsible
Fundamental problem with airport security is fragmentation
September 28, 2001
- Don't Destroy Aviation for Illusion of Security
Crippling airlines isn't the answer
Robert Poole and Viggo Butler
September 20, 2001
- The Answer to Freeway Congestion? More Freeways
August 29, 2001
- Why Users Should Be in Charge of Air Traffic Control
Tax-funded bureaucracy or user-funded/controlled corporation?
July 1, 2001
- The Final Frontier of Tourism
Entrepreneurs head to space
May 4, 2001
- How to Commercialize Air Traffic Control
February 1, 2001
- Will Midway Lease Re-Start U.S. Airport Privatization?
Like toll roads, other countries are far ahead of the U.S. in airport privatization
January 1, 2001
- Commercializing Highways
December 1, 2000
- Bringing Market Forces Into America's Highway System
November 1, 2000
- Reduce Los Angeles' Vulnerability to Transit Strikes
September 20, 2000
- Putting Customers in the Driver's Seat
The Case for Tolls
Peter Samuel and Robert Poole
September 1, 2000
- More Airline Competition
Yet Another Reason for Airport Privatization
December 1, 1999
- Why Didn't Airports Opt Out of TSA
November 30, 1999
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