Robert Poole is Director of Transportation Policy and the Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at the Reason Foundation. He received his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering at MIT and did graduate work in operations research at NYU.
His 1988 policy paper proposing privately financed express toll lanes invented that concept. The paper inspired California’s landmark public-private partnership pilot projects law (AB 680), which led to the world’s first privately developed express toll lanes project on SR 91 in Orange County, California. Today, more than 60 ETL projects are in operation around the country. In 1993 Bob directed a Reason study that introduced the term HOT Lanes.
He has been an advisor to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the White House Office of Policy Development, and the DOTs of California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Texas, and Washington State. He served on the Caltrans Privatization Advisory Steering Committee in 1989-90 and was a member of California’s Commission on Transportation Investment in 1995-96.
He is a member of the board of the Public-Private Partnerships division of ARTBA and a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Managed Lanes Committee. In 2003-05 he was a member of the TRB’s special committee on the long-term viability of fuel taxes for transportation funding. In 2008 he served as a member of the Texas Study Committee on Private Participation in Toll Roads. In 2010 he served as a member of the Expert Review Panel on Managed Lanes, for the Washington State DOT. He also served on the transition team for Florida’s Gov.-Elect Rick Scott. He writes a monthly column on transportation policy issues for Public Works Financing and publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Surface Transportation Innovations.
His book, Rethinking America’s Highways: A 21st Century Vision for Better Infrastructure, was published by the University of Chicago Press in July 2018, with a paperback edition released in January 2021.