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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.
AllStudiesBlog PostsAviation Op-EdsTransport Op-Eds
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #112
Real-time streaming of flight data, Europe shifts gears on Single European Sky, Four misconceptions about Nav Canada ATC charges
April 18, 2014
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #111
FAA budget cuts NextGen, spurs commercialization talk, Administration's user tax proposal is DOA, Inspector General and GAO fault FAA on NextGen
March 19, 2014
- Privatization of Airports, Air Traffic Control and Airport Security
Aviation Chapter of Annual Privatization Report 2014
March 19, 2014
- Developments in Transportation Finance and Infrastructure Investment
Transportation Finance Chapter of Annual Privatization Report 2014
March 19, 2014
- Airport Policy and Security News #98
LaGuardia and Reagan slots: picking winners and losers, PreCheck becoming more risk-based, Could privatization rescue Cleveland and Ontario airports?
March 4, 2014
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #110
The ATC cross-subsidy dilemma, Controversy over controller hiring and training, Another real-time aviation weather project
February 4, 2014
- Airport Policy and Security News #97
PreCheck expansion raises questions, Central planning London's airport capacity, Battle over a second Atlanta airport
January 23, 2014
- Organization and Innovation in Air Traffic Control
Organizational reform is the key to a full embrace of advanced air traffic management in the United States
January 17, 2014
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #109
New study on FAA’s risk-averse culture, More work on ATC corporation ideas, and Inspector General on controller training
January 6, 2014
- Airport Policy and Security News #96
TSA behavior-detection blasted by GAO, Airport slots and deregulation, Increased TSA security fee—or tax?
December 4, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #108
Support grows for U.S. ATC corporation, Not much progress on Single European Sky, Reducing arrival delays at San Francisco
November 27, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #95
TSA security rationale in question, O'Hare's congestion-reducing runway revamp, Expanding PreCheck prompts criticisms
November 12, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #107
GAO on dire FAA budget prospects, UAS tidal wave may hit ATC, Fees for ATC
October 28, 2013
- Is Privatization of Air Traffic Control on the Horizon?
How the sequester is shaping ATC reform
October 4, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #94
Airport privatization after Midway, Cockpit secondary barriers?, Airline up-gauging and congestion pricing
October 3, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #106
Budget pressures and ATC reform, Funding ATC like we fund airports, Controller fatigue and the FAA budget
September 27, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #93
Antitrust case threatens major airports, Expansion of trusted traveler under way, and Positive outlook for US airport privatization
August 31, 2013
- How to Fix Air Traffic Control
De-politicizing the friendly skies
August 16, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #105
Inspector General on underlying FAA problems, ATC funding crunch launches fresh thinking, Nav Canada and performance-based navigation, and More...
August 6, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #92
The future of outsourced airport screening, Second try for San Diego's Brown Field, and TSA slow to expand trusted traveler
July 11, 2013
- Overhauling U.S. Airport Security Screening
Responsibility for passenger and baggage screening should be devolved from TSA to individual airports
Robert Poole and Shirley Ybarra
July 9, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #104
U.S. still lagging on data link, RNP and noise: some progress, and More...
June 20, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #91
TSA's new hurdles, Mixed picture for airport growth, Cockpit security, and More
May 31, 2013
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #103
GAO on RNP's slow progress, How cost-effective are ATC providers? and More...
May 16, 2013
- Airport Policy and Security News #90
Fixing London's airport mess, TSA expanding trusted traveler, and more
May 6, 2013
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