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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 Reform Newsletter #91
Forecasts even slower ATC growth, ANSP mergers in Europe, Congress’ NextGen mandates
March 22, 2012
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #77
Airports short-changed by FAA reauthorization, Airport privatization news from Europe, Congress backs screening opt-out
March 7, 2012
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #90
FAA reauthorization, aviation emissions trading war, ATC user fees, Europe's next-generation milestones, ERAM woes and FAA shortcomings
February 24, 2012
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #76
Trusted Traveler expansion, Australia's light-handed airport regulation, Spain's ghost airports
February 8, 2012
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #89
Data Comm moving forward, user fee proposal still with us, new ATC concept from Germany, Spain's ATC reform outsources control towers
January 23, 2012
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #75
Secondary barriers more cost-effective than air marshals, EU airlines protest high speed rail subsidies, TSA checked-luggage screening fiasco
January 10, 2012
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #88
Space-based ADS-B, ATC not improving in Europe, Russia agrees to end flyover tax
December 16, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #74
Landmark noise settlement in Ft. Lauderdale, backscatter body scanners under new scrutiny, niche airlines and airports test new business models
December 9, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #73
Replacing federal airport grants with PFCs, cheering TSA's PreCheck, security theater vs. risk-based approach to cargo screening
November 4, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #87
Airline ticket tax broken, increased controller errors, little progress on RNP, fully integrated aviation weather
October 28, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #72
Rethinking airport funding, reforming small-airport subsidy program, GAO on tarmac delay rule
October 14, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #71
Taking Stock of Aviation Security Since 9/11
September 9, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #86
NextGen modernization held hostage to politics, slow progress for ADS-B, LightSquared even worse than you thought
August 30, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #85
FAA controller workforce problems, LightSquared GPS fiasco, Datalink for oceanic airspace, Scapegoating business jets (again)
July 26, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #70
Reforming airport screening, runway pricing for New York airports, TSA budget cuts, St. Louis air cargo boondoggle
July 18, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #84
Deloitte's case for ATC transformation, DOT and blocking business-jet tracking, coordination and decision-making in ATC reform, remote towers going live in three countries, why not ADS-B/In?
June 24, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #69
Airline crew screening alternatives, rethinking Europe's airport slot system, implementing Trusted Traveler
June 7, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #83
NextGen held hostage by politics, obstacles to facility consolidation in Europe, more on controller fatigue
May 27, 2011
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #68
How to reform TSA's opt-out screening program and high-speed rail's threat to airlines.
May 10, 2011
- Why Air Traffic Controllers Fall Asleep on the Job
They have the last word on their work schedule, including the notorious 2-2-1
Langhorne Bond and Robert Poole
April 29, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #82
Insufficient controller fatigue decision, Equipage Fund makes progress, SESAR challenges in Europe
April 26, 2011
- Time to Separate the ATO from FAA Safety Regulation
Shifting air traffic management and aviation safety regulation into two separate and organizationally independent entities
Robert Poole and Langhorne Bond
April 26, 2011
- Airport Policy and Airport Security Newsletter #67
Trusted traveler and screening airline belly cargo
April 12, 2011
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #81
Lessons from sleeping controller incident, comparing ATC reform performance worldwide, contract towers, concerns over GPS vulnerability
March 26, 2011
- Airport Policy and Airport Security Newsletter #66
Backscatter x-ray machines, TSA outsourcing and liquids ban
March 18, 2011
- It’s Time to Let the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Expire (12/12)
- What to Make of Struggling P3 Toll Roads (12/12)
- Alaska Governor Proposes $3 Billion Towards Paying Down Pension Debts (12/12)
- Baltimore City School District Has Come a Long Way since 2007, but There's Still Work to Be Done (12/11)
- Mileage Based User Fees or Road Usage Charges—Some Thoughtful Commentary (12/9)
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