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

Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis TOPS-BC User's Manual – Providing Guidance to Practitioners in the Analysis of Benefits and Costs of Management and Operations Projects



This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes for continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis TOPS-BC User’s Manual
Providing Guidance to Practitioners in the Analysis of Benefits and Costs of Management and Operations Projects

5. Report Date

June 2013

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Doug Sallman, Krista Jeannotte, Rich Margiotta and Jennifer Strasser – Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
555 12th Street, Suite 1600
Oakland, California 94607

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

User’s Manual

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA Contracting Officer’s Technical Manager (COTM) Jim Hunt.

16. Abstract

This document provides guidance on the setup and application of the Tool for Operations Benefit/Cost (TOPS-BC), which was developed to provide key decision support capabilities including:

  • The ability for users to investigate the expected range of impacts associated with previous deployments and analyses of many TSM&O strategies;
  • A screening mechanism to help users identify appropriate tools and methodologies for conducting a benefit/cost (B/C) analysis based on their analysis needs;
  • A framework and default cost data to estimate the life-cycle costs of various TSM&O strategies, including capital, replacement, and continuing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs; and
  • A framework and suggested impact values for conducting simple sketch planning level B/C analysis for selected TSM&O strategies.

This User’s Manual provides instruction on the installation and setup of TOPS-BC Version 1.0, instruction for using the basic capabilities, and discussion of adapting the available capabilities to the unique needs of an individual analysis.

The TOPS-BC tool was developed to support and complement the guidance developed as part of the FHWA Operations Benefit/Cost Desk Reference project. The Desk Reference provides more general discussion on the field of B/C analysis and methods for structuring analyses to overcome the many challenges often present when attempting to apply B/C analysis to Operations strategies.

17. Key Words

Benefit/Cost Analysis; Cost Benefit Analysis; Economic Analysis; Transportation System Management and Operations; Operations Planning; Analysis Tools; Lifecycle Cost Analysis; Travel Time Reliability Analysis; Multiresolution/Multiscenario Analysis

18. Distribution Statement

No Restrictions.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No of Pages


22. Price


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