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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.
- Misrepresenting the Benefits of High-Speed Rail
July 9, 2010, 11:34am
- The Truth About Toll Roads and Non-Compete Agreements
June 29, 2010, 5:31pm
- Are Toll Road Companies Getting Guaranteed Profits?
June 14, 2010, 3:03pm
- Highways and Toll Roads: Which Are More Expensive and Better Maintained?
June 3, 2010, 9:00am
- Are Toll Roads Subsidized or Self-Supporting?
June 1, 2010, 5:57pm
- Fixing the Way We Fund Infrastructure
May 7, 2010, 8:00am
- Highway, Infrastructure Spending Needs Benefit-Cost Analysis
May 4, 2010, 5:14pm
- Tarmac Delay Rule Will Cause Flight Cancellations
April 29, 2010, 8:40pm
- Volcano Eruption and Air Travel's Economic Importance
April 23, 2010, 1:30pm
- Get Government Out of the Airport Security Screening Business
April 9, 2010, 12:48pm
- New Jersey's Entire Transportation Appropriation Will Be Needed to Cover Debt
March 3, 2010, 5:44pm
- Diverting Gas Tax Money to Sidewalks and Transit Hurts Highways
March 2, 2010, 1:48pm
- National Infrastructure Bank: Can Congress Structure It Properly?
February 11, 2010, 12:25pm
- High-Speed Rail Doesn't Fix Any of Our Transportation Problems
February 11, 2010, 11:46am
- Florida's High-Speed Rail Route Is Going to be Very Costly for Taxpayers
January 28, 2010, 5:25pm
- Steps to Fix Airport Security
January 15, 2010, 12:20pm
- President Obama on Airport Security Failure
December 29, 2009, 6:12pm
- Flight 253 to Detroit Shows How Our Airport Security Lacks Focus
December 29, 2009, 11:10am
- Air Travel Delays Don't Have to Be Part of the Holidays
December 23, 2009, 2:50pm
- How Might TSA Screw Up Repair Stations?
December 2, 2009, 5:34pm
- Five Keys Issues Facing Aviation and Transportation Secretary LaHood
December 2, 2009, 5:28pm
- On Aviation, Secretary LaHood Should Look to Plans From the Clinton Era
November 24, 2009, 7:45am
- Banning Laptops In Cockpits Would Be More Congressional Meddling
November 24, 2009, 7:00am
- Aim Your Travel Frustrations at Washington
November 24, 2009, 6:45am
- Air Traffic System Is Outdated and Politicized
November 20, 2009, 3:34pm
- No Toll Czar: States, Not Feds, Should Protect the Public Interest in Public-Private Partnership Deals
October 26, 2009, 6:45am
- Future of National Freight Policy
September 17, 2009, 1:30pm
- Improving Transportation Security
September 17, 2009, 1:14pm
- Air Traffic Union Panics, Demonstrates How Badly Reform Is Needed
August 28, 2009, 11:55am
- Converting Carpool Lanes to Toll Lanes Will Reduce Congestion In DC and Virginia
August 12, 2009, 10:11am
- Hudson River Air Collision Highlights Safety Failures
August 11, 2009, 4:02pm
- 710 Tunnel Is LA's Best Hope to Reduce Traffic Congestion
August 5, 2009, 11:03am
- FAA Reauthorization and the Future of Air Traffic Control
July 24, 2009, 3:15pm
- Oberstar Misleads on Light Rail, Highway Costs
July 24, 2009, 2:53pm
- Should Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled Be a Federal Policy Goal?
June 30, 2009, 10:17pm
- Air France Tragedy Prompts Question: Are Airliner Black Boxes Now Obsolete?
June 23, 2009, 12:06pm
- Economist: Transportation Bill Runs Into Reality
June 22, 2009, 9:20pm
- Rushing the Highway Bill Would be a Big Mistake, LaHood's Delay Makes Sense
June 22, 2009, 4:01pm
- The Oberstar Transportation Bill Is Fatally Flawed
June 19, 2009, 10:46am
- Sen. Boxer Supports Delaying Highway Bill
June 18, 2009, 5:11pm
- Oberstar's $450 to $500 Billion Transportation Bill
June 18, 2009, 4:55pm
- Airport Congestion Costs New York Billions
June 18, 2009, 2:01pm
- Looking Into Airport Parking Privatization in Pittsburgh
June 18, 2009, 1:50pm
- Registered Traveler Breakthrough Would Improve Airport Security
June 16, 2009, 3:45pm
- Support for Los Angeles' Congestion Pricing Plan
June 16, 2009, 11:42am
- Is the Goal to Reduce Emissions, Fuel Use or Mobility?
June 15, 2009, 5:05pm
- 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
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