Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference

Printable Version [PDF 15MB]
To view PDF files, you may need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Contact Information: Operations Feedback at

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Project Background and Purpose

How to Use the Desk Reference and TOPS-BC Decision Support Tool

Chapter 2: Overview of B/C Analysis for Operations

What is B/C Analysis?

How is B/C Analysis Used in the Operations Planning Process?

How can B/C Analysis for Operations Strategies be Integrated with B/C Analysis for Other More Traditional Strategies

Challenges and Limitations of B/C Analysis28

Chapter 3: Operations Strategies and their Impacts (Agency, User, and Societal Benefits)

Definitions of Operations Strategies Covered in this Reference

What are the Impacts and Benefits of Operations Strategies?

Chapter 4: Existing B/C Tools and Methods

Overview of Existing Tools and Methods for B/C Analysis of Operations

Operations Strategies Available for Analysis in the Tools/Methods

MOEs Generated

Chapter 5: Conducting B/C Analysis for Operations

Selecting the Appropriate Methodology/Factors Influencing the Analysis Approach

Determining the Appropriate Timeframe to Use

Available Resources for Identifying the Benefits of Operations Strategies

Configuring B/C Analysis to Local Conditions

Estimating the Impacts (User and Societal Benefits) of the Operations Strategy

Valuing the Benefits

Estimating the Life-Cycle Costs

Displaying and Communicating Results

Addressing Challenges of Applying B/C Analysis to TSM&O Strategies Targeted at Nonrecurring Conditions

Additional Resources and Support

Appendix A. List of Acronyms

List of Tables

Table 1-1. Summary of Guidance on Various TSM&O Strategies

Table 2-1. Comparison of Projects Using B/C Ratio and Net Benefit

Table 2-2. Common Terminology Used in the Desk Reference

Table 2-3. Comparing B/C Analysis with Economic Impact Analysis

Table 2-4. Comparison of ARTIMIS Operational Projects with a Traditional Roadway Widening Project

Table 3-1. Sample EPA Fuel Use Rates by Average Speed for Year 2010 (in Gallons per VMT)

Table 3-2. Reliability Performance Measures

Table 3-3. Sample IDAS-Derived Travel Time Reliability – Rates for One-Hour Peak (Vehicle Hours of Incident Delay per Vehicle Mile)

Table 4-1. Summary of Existing B/C Tools and Methods for TSM&O

Table 5-1. Analysis Methods/Tools Mapped to Appropriate Geographic Scope

Table 5-2. Analysis Tools and Methods Mapped to their General Resource Requirements

Table 5-3. Real Discount Rates 2011 (Public Investment) (in Percentage)

Table 5-4. Distribution of Operating Conditions in U.S. 75 Dallas

Table 5-5. Capacity Reduction Based on Nonrecurring Weather Types

Table 5-6. Capacity Reduction Based on Nonrecurring Incidents (In Percentage)

Table 5-7. Capacity Reduction Related to Work Zones (In Percentage)

Table 5-8. Sample Scenario Probabilities – I-580 Corridor

List of Figures

Figure 1-1 Capabilities Provided by TOPS-BC

Figure 2-1. Sample Display of B/C Analysis Output

Figure 2-2. Typical Benefits and Costs Distribution among Stakeholder Groups

Figure 2-3. Objectives-Driven Planning for Operations Approach

Figure 2-4. ARTIMIS Program Expansion Plans

Figure 2-5. Hypothetical Project Comparison Data – MTC San Francisco Bay Area 2035 Transportation Plan

Figure 2-6. Sample View of TOPS-BC Impact Lookup Function

Figure 3-1. Example Display of User Travel Time MOE

Figure 3-2. Use of Recurring Travel Time Measurement versus Actual Traveler Experience

Figure 3-3. National Summary of the Sources of Congestion

Figure 4-1. Example View of Sketch-Planning B/C Analysis Method (SCRITS) Data Inputs

Figure 4-2. Example View of CaltransCAL-BC Analysis Tool Data Outputs

Figure 4-3. Example of Post-Processing B/C Analysis Method (IDAS)

Figure 4-4. Multiple-Resolution Approach Developed for the ICM Initiative Analysis

Figure 4-5. Comparison of ICM Benefit Estimates between Nonincident Scenarios and Incident Scenarios (San Diego I-405 Analysis – in Millions of Annual Dollars)

Figure 4-6. Available Tools/Methods Mapped to Strategies Analyzed

Figure 4-7. Available Tools/Methods Mapped to MOEs Analyzed

Figure 4-8. TOPS-BC Analysis Method Selection Tool (Partial Screenview)

Figure 5-1. Different Simulation Analysis Tools are Appropriate to Different Geographic Scopes

Figure 5-2. Use of Representative Corridors in an Analysis

Figure 5-3. Mapping of Strategies to Analysis Scenarios

Figure 5-4. Comparison of Analysis Methods with Various Stages of the Planning Process and Need for Analysis Sensitivity

Figure 5-5. TSM&O Strategies Mapped to Likely Impacts on MOEs

Figure 5-6. Sample View of TOPS-BC TSM&O Impact Look-up Function

Figure 5-7. Sample View of U.S. DOT ITS Benefits Database Web Site

Figure 5-8. Example Calculations of Incremental Change MOEs

Figure 5-9. Sample View of Benefit Valuations Maintained in the TOPS-BC Repository

Figure 5-10. Example View of Cost Data Organization for a Ramp Meter System

Figure 5-11. TOPS-BC Projected Stream of Costs Output

Figure 5-12. Innovative Use of Graphics to Display Multiple Data

Figure 5-13. Sample Graphic Presenting Results over an Analysis Timeline

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations (HOP)
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

May 2012

Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-028