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Reason Foundation Staff
Director of Communications
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 #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
- Improving Airport Passenger Screening
September 1, 2002
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #1
Topics include: baggage 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
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #3
Topics include: corporatized ATC providers adjusting to lower air traffic; the FAA modernization slowdown; and the wrangle over controller productivity.
February 1, 2002
- Speed Up Airport Security, Issue I.D. Cards
Israel uses trusted-traveler, so should US
January 17, 2002
- It's the Mandate, Not the Money
Focus on effective security, not just spending money
December 14, 2001
- False Security
Airport security bill provides costly feel-good security, unrealistic deadlines
December 5, 2001
- For Real Airport Security
Pre-9/11 woes still exist
November 13, 2001
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #2
Topics include: NavCanada copes with September 11th shut-down; ATC providers adjust to air travel slowdown; ATC corporatizations in Denmark, Hungary, and Singapore; and other breaking news.
November 1, 2001
- Don't Federalize Airport Security
Europe, Israel use private screeners, government as regulator
October 24, 2001
- Answer to Airport Security Found in Europe
European countries tried and abandoned federalized approach
October 11, 2001
- Make Airports Responsible
Fundamental problem with airport security is fragmentation
September 28, 2001
- Don't Destroy Aviation for Illusion of Security
Crippling airlines isn't the answer
Robert Poole and Viggo Butler
September 20, 2001
- Why Users Should Be in Charge of Air Traffic Control
Tax-funded bureaucracy or user-funded/controlled corporation?
July 1, 2001
- How to Commercialize Air Traffic Control
February 1, 2001
- Will Midway Lease Re-Start U.S. Airport Privatization?
Like toll roads, other countries are far ahead of the U.S. in airport privatization
January 1, 2001
- More Airline Competition
Yet Another Reason for Airport Privatization
December 1, 1999
- Airport Privatization Pilot Program
September 1, 1996
- Reinventing Air Traffic Control
A New Blueprint for a Better System
Viggo Butler and Robert Poole
May 1, 1996
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