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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.
- Surface Transportation News #129
The elephant in the room in reauthorization
July 8, 2014
- What We’ve Learned From 25 Years of Highway Public-Private Partnerships
In our political climate, public-private partnerships are much more feasible than private toll roads
July 7, 2014
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #114
Budget problems crimping NextGen, Obstacles to PBN—Inspector General reports, Media focus on new controller hiring plan
June 27, 2014
- Surface Transportation News #128
Fresh thinking on urban transit
June 16, 2014
- Getting to Yes on Interstate Tolling
If common sense prevails and support builds among highway users for a customer-friendly program to modernize the Interstates with toll finance, we may actually get a workable program
June 4, 2014
- Conservatives Shouldn't Be Bothered By HOT Lanes
Why is the Weekly Standard defending the government's failed status quo model for U.S. highways?
May 28, 2014
- Frequently Asked Questions on Toll-Financed Interstate Reconstruction
May 19, 2014
- Air Traffic Control Newsletter #113
The ATC "size matters" argument, NRC committee reviewing NextGen, New ideas for aircraft tracking
May 16, 2014
- Surface Transportation News #127
Tolling and P3s boosted in Obama transportation bill, Colorado dust-up over toll concessions, Progress and questions on autonomous vehicles
May 5, 2014
- Keys to Financing Managed Lane Networks
The greatest challenge in implementing such networks is not political acceptance; far more difficult will be paying for them
May 5, 2014
- President Obama's Proposal to Allow Tolling to Rebuild Interstates Is the Right Move
May 1, 2014, 4:20pm
- 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
- Airport Policy and Security News #99
TSA leaves third-party PreCheck companies in the lurch, Airport expansion and noise compensation, The no-reform TSA budget proposal
April 7, 2014
- Taking Seriously Highway Users’ Concerns Over Tolling
April 2, 2014
- Surface Transportation News #126
Value-Added Tolling: getting to "yes" on Interstate modernization, How to mislead with transit data, New developments in arterial underpasses
March 31, 2014
- Value-Added Tolling
A Better Deal for America's Highway Users
March 27, 2014
- Some Good News on Highways and Bridges
March 21, 2014, 1:08pm
- PreCheck Becoming More Risk-Based
March 20, 2014, 10:49am
- 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
- Privatization of Toll Roads, Managed Lanes, Highways, Bridges
Surface Transportation 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
- Surface Transportation News #125
The make-believe transportation budget proposal, Good news on highways and bridges, More elevated express lanes in Tampa area
March 7, 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
- Express lanes Benefit All South Florida Drivers
A regional network of express lanes will mean every commuter on an expressway will have the option of faster and more reliable travel when it really counts
February 19, 2014
- Surface Transportation News #124
Per-mile tolling vs. per-gallon fuel taxes, Strategic thinking on managed lanes networks, New Starts transit funding under pressure
February 13, 2014
- Ten Reasons Why Per-Mile Tolling Is a Better Highway User Fee than Fuel Taxes
Mileage-based user fees are a sustainable, fair and efficient alternative to the gas tax
February 13, 2014
- Do We Need a House Public-Private Partnership Panel?
Congress announced the creation of a special panel to advise the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on public-private partnerships
February 6, 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
- Europe Seeking to Reform Airport Subsidies
January 31, 2014, 9:20am
- PreCheck Expansion Raises Questions
January 29, 2014, 3:12pm
- 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
- Surface Transportation News #123
US congestion less than in Europe. Managed lane networks taking shape. Competing bills on infrastructure financd.
January 9, 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
- Why We Need Transparent Highway Funding
The longer-term goal should be to convert our highway systems into actual highway utilities, run as businesses and paid directly by their customers
January 6, 2014
- 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
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #122
US congestion less than in Europe and Australia, Managed lane networks taking shape, Competing bills on infrastructure finance
December 11, 2013
- 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
- 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
- The Search for a National Freight Policy
December 2, 2013, 2:41pm
- Support Builds for U.S. ATC Corporation
November 27, 2013, 1:27pm
- 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
- Proposed National Bicycle Route System Fails Cost-Benefit Analysis Test
November 22, 2013, 2:32pm
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #121
Tolls are not taxes, says Virginia Supreme Court, Debut of new version of Commuting in America, Searching for a national freight policy
November 21, 2013
- Value-Added Tolling and Interstate Modernization
The largest opportunity for toll concession P3 projects is a several-decade effort to rebuild and modernize the Interstate highway system
November 15, 2013
- Streetcars are the Wrong Way to go on Columbia Pike (7/24)
- Poll Shows Voters Support State-based Sage Grouse Conservation (7/24)
- Lucy Burns Institute Launches Policypedia (7/22)
- How to Structure a Good Defined Contribution Plan (7/22)
- New Landowner-friendly Endangered Species Policy: Not so New, Not so Friendly (7/22)
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