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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.
- Is the Goal to Reduce Emissions, Fuel Use or Mobility?
June 15, 2009, 5:05pm
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #46
Registered traveler, TSA and private pilots, airport congestion and parking privatization
June 15, 2009
- Transit Funding Could Come from the General Fund, Not the Highway Trust Fund
June 12, 2009, 8:01am
- Learning From Abroad: Public-Private Partnerships Building Highways Overseas
June 12, 2009, 7:00am
- President Obama vs. The Beach Boys
June 11, 2009, 5:59pm
- Performance-Based Transportation Spending and Policy
June 11, 2009, 5:27pm
- Surface Transportation Innovations #68
Performance-based transportation, targeting vehicle miles traveled, Obama and the Beach Boys
June 11, 2009
- Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Without Reducing Mobility
Focusing on cutting vehicle miles traveled is the wrong approach
June 9, 2009
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #63
Topics include: GPS backup getting more attention; ATC user fees redux; steps toward "virtual towers;" ATC modernization progress in Europe; and other news.
May 26, 2009
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #45
Topics include: short-haul flights vs. rail; post-Midway airport privatization; MANPADS defenses; airport landing slots in Europe; the Maginot Line of airport screening; FAMs vs. FFDOs; and other news.
May 21, 2009
- Surface Transportation Innovations #67
Topics include: bills to curtail toll road PPPs; caution on economic impact studies; carbon caps; tunnels to somewhere; buses vs. inter-city rail; and other news.
May 15, 2009
- High-Speed Rail on Existing Tracks Won't Be That Fast
May 5, 2009, 10:20am
- High-Speed Rail Plans Should Be Called Moderate-Speed Rail
True high-speed rail would cost tens or hundreds of billions more
May 5, 2009
- Letting States Keep Gas Tax Money, Opt Out of the Highway Trust Fund
April 29, 2009, 10:37am
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #62
Topics include: slower ATC growth; new NextGen focus on mid-term; tough sledding for EU ATC providers; Wake Vortex progress; air safety in Canada; and other news.
April 27, 2009
- FAA Promotes Future Air Traffic Control System on YouTube
April 23, 2009, 5:02pm
- Will High-Speed Rail End Air Travel of Less Than 500 Miles?
April 22, 2009, 12:45pm
- How Would Cap-And-Trade Affect Transportation?
April 21, 2009, 6:51pm
- Chicago's Midway Airport Privatization Deal Collapses
April 21, 2009, 11:20am
- Maybe Business Jet Groups Don't Want to Pay Their Fair Share Or Fix Their Image
April 15, 2009, 11:48am
- Government Intervention And The Archaic Rules Of Airline Ownership
April 15, 2009, 12:20am
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #44
Topics include: whole body scanning; runway safety areas; air marshals vs. armed pilots; luggage pilfering and airport security; outsourced commercial airports; and other news.
April 13, 2009
- Surface Transportation Innovations #66
Topics include: protecting the public interest in public-private partnership toll road deals; fresh thinking on highway design; role for tolling ; automating HOT lanes enforcement; greenhouse gas regulation; and other news.
April 9, 2009
- Midway Airport Lease Deal Is Too Important to Fall Through
April 8, 2009, 3:11pm
- What Role Should Public-Private Partnerships Play In Transportation?
April 7, 2009, 12:00am
- PIRG's Misleading Report on Public-Private Toll Roads
April 3, 2009, 3:16pm
- Adding More Transparency to Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Projects
Ways to de-politicize the process
March 31, 2009
- FedEx May Cancel Order of 15 Boeing 777Fs If Congress Passes Unions Bill
March 26, 2009, 1:46am
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #61
Topics include: repairing the image of business jets; controller training; Europe's ATC integration; Gingrich on NextGen; Loran; and other news.
March 25, 2009
- Is High-Speed Rail Worth It? Is It Really High-Speed Rail At All?
March 23, 2009, 5:41pm
- Toll Road Privatization And The Fear of Foreign Companies
March 23, 2009, 5:33pm
- Airport Privatization Being Proposed In A Soft Market
March 19, 2009, 5:15pm
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #43
Topics include: inspecting cargo; slot auction problems; misguided bizjet security regs; airport privatization in a soft market; and other news.
March 18, 2009
- TSA Coming Up Short on Cargo Checks
March 17, 2009, 10:46am
- Gingrich Is Off Base on Fixing the Air Traffic Control System
March 16, 2009, 10:01pm
- President Obama Should Stick to Guns on User Fees for Business Jets
March 16, 2009, 9:58pm
- Surface Transportation Innovations #65
Topics include: VMT charge vs. VMT tax; PPPs and the stimulus; public sector comparator models; inter-city high-speed rail; California's new PPP legislation; and other news.
March 6, 2009
- Second National Commission Gets It Mostly Right
Commission offers a series of valuable policy proposals
February 28, 2009
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #60
Topics include: satellite navigation and airport capacity; Aviation Trust Fund revenue; controller training; Who constitutes “the airlines”?; radar vs. wind farms; and other news.
February 27, 2009
- Reducing Congestion in Lee County, Florida
Cutting traffic in one of America's fastest growing urban areas
Robert Poole and Chris Swenson
February 26, 2009
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #42
Topics include: stealth attack on airport privatization; TSA's flawed study on private screening; airport expansion vs. inter-city rail; limited profiling endorsed; airport competition; and other news.
February 17, 2009
- Paying for the Transportation System We Need
February 12, 2009, 3:45pm
- Who Is Going to Pay for Air Cargo Screening?
February 6, 2009, 12:17pm
- Paying for a Modernized Air Traffic System
February 6, 2009, 12:00pm
- A National Infrastructure Bank?
Proposed bank can fill a niche, but current proposal needs to be refocused
February 3, 2009
- Surface Transportation Innovations #64
Topics include:Bridges to Somewhere; The "Foreign Companies" Issue; Infrastructure Report Card; Sidewalks and Bikeways; Truck Toll Lanes;
February 1, 2009
- Thomas Frank Is Wrong About Toll Roads
Public-private partnerships focus on most-needed infrastructure, unlike pork that is baked into government spending
January 29, 2009
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #41
Topics include: cost-effectiveness of U.S. airport security; new technology for perimeter security; Jacksonville, Long Beach consider privatization; PFCs and FAA reauthorization; and other news.
January 1, 2009
- Surface Transportation Innovations #63
Topics include: the stimulus bill and PPPs; transit investment; Texas commission charting course for PPPs; getting rid of cash tolling; fixing America's bridges; and other news.
January 1, 2009
- Time to Consider Tolling the Interstates
Tolls could play a critical role in reconstructing and modernizing Interstates
January 1, 2009
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