- About Reason
- Policy Areas
- Policy Studies
- Press Room
Get weekly updates from Reason.
Today's Top Topics
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
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #113
Congestion problems, Amtrak's future, Repeal the Jones Act?
March 14, 2013
- The Reasons President Obama's "Fix-It-FIrst" Program Isn't Smart Transportation Policy
A national policy of fix-it-first would fail to prioritize and misallocate resources very significantly
March 5, 2013
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #112
Highways and bridges are not crumbling, fixing structurally deficient bridges
February 21, 2013
- Merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority Into the State DOT Is a Bad Idea
Gov. Brownback's proposal is far from fiscally conservative
February 7, 2013
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #111
Virginia P3 program at risk? MAP-21's contradiction, Tolls finance bridge projects, Federal transportation policy
January 10, 2013
- Funding Important Transportation Infrastructure In a Fiscally Constrained Environment
Rethinking how America pays for and manages its critically important transportation infrastructure
January 9, 2013
- Gov. Kasich's Ohio Turnpike Mistake and the Future of Highway Funding
Ohio caved to political pressure, but the rest of the world is adapting to the new infrastructure funding paradigm
January 2, 2013
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #110
User fees, Highway leases, HOV and HOT lanes, Activity bonds, Housing and land use
December 12, 2012
- 21st Century Toll Collection Is Competitive With Fuel Taxes
Proceeding with alternatives to the gas tax
December 11, 2012
- Dispelling the Myths: Toll and Fuel Tax Collection Costs in the 21st Century
The time to embrace electronic tolls as a primary source of highway funding is now
Daryl Fleming and Robert Poole
November 27, 2012
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #109
Florida toll lanes, managed lanes, transportation ballot measures
November 14, 2012
- Economists vs. Realists on Mileage-Based User Fees
Finding the best way to replace gas taxes with mileage-based user fees
November 10, 2012
- Sustainable Funding for Roads: Building the Case for 21st-Century Tolling
A transition from fuel-based highway user taxes to mileage-based highway user fees
November 5, 2012
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #108
Coping with Less, Managed Arterials, Autonomous Vehicles, and More
October 16, 2012
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #107
How NOT to rebuild interstates, self-driving cars, 3 private rail projects
September 19, 2012
- Making the Case for Tolling
How a 'managed arterial' approach could cure Atlanta's congested roads
August 10, 2012
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #106
Expanded TIFIA pros and cons, milking cash-cow toll roads
August 9, 2012
- Congress Kicks the Can Down the Road on Sustainable Highway Funding
The future debate over mileage-based user fees
August 6, 2012
- Ten Myths and Facts on Transportation Public-Private Partnerships
Addressing fears, misperceptions surrounding transportation PPPs in Ohio
Leonard Gilroy and Robert Poole
July 26, 2012
- Surface Transportation Newsletter #105
What reauthorization means for tolling and PPPs; Private high-speed rail investment?
July 18, 2012
- Four Principles for Expanded U.S. Tolling
Why future highways should be paid for by mileage-based user fees and other suggestions for highway funding
July 9, 2012
- Surface Transportation Innovations #104
How to increase transit ridership, Inefficiencies with electric cars, Managed lanes projects break new ground
June 14, 2012
- Adapting the Managed Lanes Idea to Urban Roadways
How managed arterials can help reduce congested metro areas
June 11, 2012
- A Better Way to Limit Congestion on Roads
How applying the Managed Lanes concept to arterials could reduce traffic
Chris Swenson and Robert Poole
May 9, 2012
- The Year 2011 in Toll Roads, HOT Lanes, Infrastructure Finance
Surface Transportation Chapter of Annual Privatization Report 2011
May 1, 2012
- 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)
- Privatization & Government Reform Newsletter #2 (Dec 2013 edition) (12/3)
Latest From Reason
David Harsanyi (12/6)
A pragmatic argument for coercive vaccination
Ronald Bailey (12/6)
Less than 0.1 percent of the industry's workforce participated.
Jim Epstein (12/6)
Remember how well Cash for Clunkers worked out?
Steven Greenhut (12/6)
And keeping the troops there won't change that.
Sheldon Richman (12/6)
©2013 The Reason Foundation. All rights reserved.
5737 Mesmer Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90230 (310) 391-2245
Please email email@example.com if you have questions about this Web site.