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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
- 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
- Surface Transportation Innovations #16
Topics include: the reauthorization bills, PPPs, managed lanes, and other breaking news stories.
May 1, 2004
- Hybrids in Carpool Lanes: A Nonstarter
Several drawbacks to plan
April 14, 2004
- Surface Transportation Innovations #15
Special Focus on Federal reauthorization bills
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
- Surface Transportation Innovations #14
Topics include: Reason's toll truckways study, tolls and the Federal highway reauthorization, transportation costs and sprawl, and other breaking news stories.
February 1, 2004
- Corridors for Toll Truckways
Suggested Locations for Pilot Projects
Robert Poole and Peter Samuel
February 1, 2004
- Surface Transportation Innovations #13
Topics include: a new approach to toll road financing, London's congestion pricing, transit and congestion, STPP's transportation costs study, and other breaking news stories.
January 1, 2004
- Surface Transportation Innovations #12
Topics include: transit's actual effect on congestion, Deloitte's new report on road pricing, new data on sprawl and commuting, best toll truckway corridors, and other breaking news stories.
November 1, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #11
Topics include: the potential of FAST lanes, Texas' congestion reduction plans, TRB committee on future of fuel taxes, ULEVs in HOT lanes, and other features.
September 1, 2003
- A Win-Win for Our Freeways
Transform carpool lanes to variable-priced toll lanes
August 29, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #10
Topics include: replacing the gas tax, megaproject megaflops, highways and growth, and making new tolls permanent.
July 1, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #9
Topics include: the social welfare impact of HOT lanes, the emerging consensus for priced lanes in reauthorization, Battelle on innovative contracting, and a new approach for toll-road financing.
June 1, 2003
- Toll Lane Fix for 101 Freeway
Elevated lanes the answer
May 27, 2003
- Cutbacks In Public Transit Funds Should Compel Acceptance Of User Fees For Transportation
Budget bust should compel acceptance
April 24, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #8
Topics include: outsourcing highway maintenance, PPI's report on reauthorization, a first look at DOT's draft reauthorization bill, and HOT networks speaking engagements.
April 1, 2003
- Rebuilding the Marquette Interchange Via a Public-private Partnership
Robert Poole, Kevin Soucie, Daryl Fleming and Tom McDaniel
February 1, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #7
Topics include: Reason's new HOT networks study, the HOT networks news conference in Washington, DC, and media coverage of Reason's HOT networks report.
February 1, 2003
- HOT Networks
A New Plan for Congestion Relief and Better Transit
Robert Poole and C. Kenneth Orski
February 1, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #6
Topics include: using tolls and PPP for a major Interstate reconstruction, an impressive report on road pricing's future, Reason at the TRB Annual Meeting, and rethinking the Midstate Tollway.
January 1, 2003
- Surface Transportation Innovations #5
Topics include: lessons from Orange County toll roads, huge support for value pricing, Orange County's mega-tunnel prospect, and a new look at capacity expansion.
October 1, 2002
- Time to Rethink Carpool Lanes
Census shows declining numbers
August 21, 2002
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