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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
- Shore Up Existing Security
Equipping all planes with anti-missile devices isn't best strategy
August 22, 2003
- Air Traffic Improvements to Ensure Friendly Skies
How to bring air traffic system into the 21st century
August 18, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #15
Topics include: controllers' union pushes too hard for ATC privatization ban, flight service station reform, data link decision a setback for modernization, and good news from the Canadian and UK ATC corporations.
August 1, 2003
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #4
Topics include: the closing the belly-cargo loophole, inadequate explosive detection systems, and the LAX master plan.
July 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Controllers' Union, Bush at Odds
Battle over "inherently governmental"
June 17, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #14
Topics include: anti-outsourcing provisions in the FAA reauthorization bill; Sen. Lautenberg's untruths on overseas ATC corporations; and understanding the Administration's strong stance against anti-privatization amendments.
June 1, 2003
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #3
Topics include: new report calling for trusted traveler system and offering alternative to CAPPS II.
May 1, 2003
- A Risk Based Airport Security Policy
Robert Poole and George Passantino
May 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #13
Topics include: House committee blocks ATC reform; a "dream" Aviation Subcommittee hearing on ATC reform; former FAA Admin. Langhorne Bond's case for arms-length ATC safety regulation; and the military and contract towers.
May 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #12
Topics include: modernization at the UK's National Air Traffic Services; FAA's continuing budget woes; facility consolidation; overflight fees overturned in court; and the need for ATC safety regulation.
April 1, 2003
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #2
Topics include: airport passenger screening, rethinking checked-baggage screening, and baggage processing.
March 1, 2003
- Why an Air Traffic Control Corporation Makes Sense
March 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #10
Topics include: NATCA's new anti-privatization campaign; a response to Sen. Lautenberg's letter; innovation within FAA; and news notes on ATC corporations.
January 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #11
Issue devoted solely to a response to the escalation of the campaign against ATC reform by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
January 1, 2003
- FAA, Controllers Mistaken on Privatization
December 20, 2002
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #9
Issue devoted solely to addressing anti-privatization claims made by controllers and the FAA.
December 1, 2002
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #8
Topics include: new administrator open to ATC privatization; AOPA warming to flight service outsourcing; the long-term need for more ATC capacity; and FAA's release of guidance for implementing RNP (required navigation performance).
November 1, 2002
- Gaping Holes in Airport Security
Airports should be allowed to test private screeners
September 19, 2002
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #1
Topics include: baggage screening.
September 1, 2002
- Improving Airport Passenger Screening
September 1, 2002
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #7
Topics include: next steps in FAA Reform; the Single European Sky proposal; FAA's new "inherently governmental" policy; and ATC reform and general aviation's future.
August 1, 2002
- Rethinking Checked-Baggage
Robert Poole and Viggo Butler
July 1, 2002
- Bad News as TSA Takes Control
Airport operators want alternatives to TSA
June 26, 2002
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #5
Topics include: ATC modernization threatened by budget shortfalls; RVSM revisited; more FAA accounting system troubles; and corporatized ATC and rural areas.
April 1, 2002
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #4
Topics include: expanding airspace capacity via RVSM; NATCA's last-ditch defense of "inherently governmental;" the real story behind the NATS "bailout;" and other news.
February 1, 2002
- Privatization & Government Reform Newsletter #2 (Dec 2013 edition) (12/3)
- The Search for a National Freight Policy (12/2)
- More Boasts from California Contractor Regulators For Wasting Time and Money (11/29)
- Massachusetts State and Municipal Retiree Systems Costly, Underfunded (11/29)
- Innovators in Action (November 2013 edition): Pursuing Fiscal Self-Reliance in Utah (11/27)
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