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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
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #26
Topics include: FAA forum on ATC funding crunch; Reason's new ATC funding report; the Aviation Trust Fund; GAO's report on commercialized ATC providers overseas; and Congressman Mica's hearing on the FAA funding crunch.
May 1, 2005
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #25
Topics include: user charges for ATC services; the FAA funding crunch; fresh thinking on ATC modernization; and Reason's upcoming ATC funding report.
April 1, 2005
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #13
Topics include: homeland security priorities, the future of airport screening, paying for aviation security, expanding the registered traveler program, the arrival of better EDS technology, and other news.
March 1, 2005
- Security: A Time to Pause
The airport industry needs to push for fundamental changes at TSA
February 15, 2005
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #24
Topics include: lessons from flight service station outsourcing; FAA's budget woes; increasing controller productivity through technology; and why more flight levels aren't producing expected time savings.
February 1, 2005
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #23
Topics include: FAA's controller workforce plan, next-generation air traffic management, entrepreneurial airservices in the Pacific, and ATC privatization in Germany.
January 1, 2005
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #12
Topics include: departing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's legacy, the Screening Partnership Program, increasingly intrusive airport screenings, new approaches to the Registered Traveller Program, and other news.
December 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #22
Topics include: FAA's "perfect storm" budget crisis, operational error reporting, expanding ATC capacity, and the controller workforce issue.
November 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #21
Topics include: controller shortages, ATC procurement reform in Australia, identifying ATO's "customers," and consolidating flight service stations.
September 1, 2004
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #11
Topics include: security flaws identified in the 9/11 Commission report, compensated secondary screening, alternative baggage handling, Congressman Mica's critique of TSA, congressional innumeracy, and other news.
September 1, 2004
- FAA Threats Don't Fly
Pricing solution to flight delays
August 27, 2004
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #10
Topics include: access control and perimeter security, explosive detection screening, screening opt-out guidelines, concerns about TSA screeners, and other news.
July 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #20
Topics include: ATC safety regulation, Nav Canada's rate increase, increasing airspace capacity, and controller-pilot data link communications.
June 1, 2004
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #9
Topics include: devolution, disaster response, and other security news.
May 1, 2004
- FAA's Efforts Fall Short
Market prices for air traffic would help modernize system
April 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #19
Topics include: overhauling the ATO, modernizing oceanic ATC systems, delays resulting from aviation system limitations, and modernization budget cuts.
April 1, 2004
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #8
Topics include: developments in airline security, airport baggage screening, and how not to respond to the Madrid bombing.
March 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #18
Topics include: ATC modernization in peril, coping with airline changes, the good and bad in the controller contract extension, and standardizing definitions for safety measures.
February 1, 2004
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #7
Topics include: air hassles, risk-based cargo screening, and missile defense.
January 1, 2004
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #17
Topics include: union loses privatization battle, ATO's promising debut, the slot credit system, and reconsidering LAAS.
December 1, 2003
- The Real Battle Over Air Traffic Control
Privatization at small towers a sticking point
Robert Poole and Dorothy Robyn
November 3, 2003
- Air Traffic Control Reform Newsletter #16
Topics include: duplicity in the ATC privatization battle, soaring controller costs, evaluating flight changes with software, and separating ATC operations from safety regulations.
October 1, 2003
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #6
Topics include: cockpit doors, a private-sector trusted traveler proposal, and rethinking defense against terrorism.
October 1, 2003
- Air Traffic Debate About Safety and Efficiency
Pilots work for private companies, why not controllers?
September 27, 2003
- Airport Policy and Security Newsletter #5
Topics include: the registered traveler pilot program, cargo plane doors, and baggage theft.
September 1, 2003
- Mileage Based User Fees or Road Usage Charges--Some Thoughtful Commentary (12/9)
- Human Rights Watch Exposes Injustice of Plea Bargains and Mandatory Minimums (12/6)
- Southwest Struggles As Legacy Airlines Establish Solid Business Models (12/6)
- Texas Families Show Strong Demand for More School Choice (12/5)
- TSA Behavior Detection Blasted by GAO (12/5)
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