TCRP Report 138: Estimating Soft Costs for Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects
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TCRP Report 138:
Estimating Soft Costs for Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects
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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 138: Estimating Soft Costs for Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects defines and describes soft costs and provides a new suggested methodology to estimate soft costs based on historical projects. The report also examines detailed technical information about the data collection, methodology, and statistical analysis that was used to develop the suggested methodology.


  • Transportation — Design
  • Transportation — Planning and Forecasting
  • Transportation — Public Transportation
  • Transportation — Administration and Management
  • Transportation — Finance
  • Transportation — Terminals and Facilities

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-ix
Part 1: Guidebook 1-2
Introduction 3-3
Chapter 1 - What Are Soft Costs and Why Do They Matter? 4-4
Chapter 2 - How and Who This Guidebook Helps: Audience and Circumstances 5-5
Definition of Soft Costs 6-6
What Are the Components of Soft Costs? 7-7
Typical versus Less Typical Soft Costs 8-8
What Soft Costs Are Not: It Depends on Perspective 9-10
When Does FTA Ask for Soft Cost Estimates? 11-11
Characteristics of the Federal Process That Affect Soft Costs 12-12
Federal versus Non-Federal Projects 13-13
Later Phases 14-15
How Does This Practice Compare with Actual Costs? 16-17
Art versus Science 18-18
Quantifying Soft Costs 19-19
Four-Step Process 20-24
Applying These Steps: Two Example Projects 25-29
Appendix A - FTA Capital Cost Database 30-31
Appendix B - Soft Cost Estimation Worksheet 32-33
Appendix C - Glossary 34-36
Part 2: Final Report 37-39
S.1. Definition of Soft Costs 40-40
S.2. Soft Cost Estimation: State of the Practice 41-42
S.4. A New Approach to Estimate Soft Costs 43-43
S.5. Future Research Direction 44-44
1.2. Background 45-45
1.3. Definition of Soft Costs 46-47
1.4. Organization of This Report 48-48
2.1. Papers and Websites 49-49
2.3. Textbooks and Technical Books 50-50
2.5. European Sources 51-51
2.6. Summary and Conclusion 52-52
3.1. In-Depth Interviews with Professional Cost Estimators 53-54
3.3. Questionnaire Results: Magnitude of Estimated Soft Costs 55-59
3.4. Questionnaire Results: Drivers Identified 60-61
3.5. Questionnaire Results: Impact of Drivers 62-65
4.2. Data Source: FTA Capital Cost Database 66-67
4.3. Potential Issues in Soft Cost Categorization 68-69
4.4. Historical Soft Costs 70-76
4.5. Relationships between Cost Drivers and Historical Soft Costs 77-87
5.2. Soft Cost Estimation: State of the Practice 88-88
5.3. As-Built Cost Analysis 89-89
5.4. Future Research Directions 90-90
Bibliography 91-92
Appendix A - Cost Estimators Interviewed 93-93
B.1. Data Sources for Project Descriptions 94-94
B.2. Project Descriptions 95-107
C.2. Adjustments Addressing Different Cost Categorization 108-108
C.5. Vehicle Soft Costs 109-109
C.6. Soft Costs by Mode and Year 110-112
C.7. Soft Costs by Complexity: Overall Project Size 113-116
C.8. Soft Costs by Complexity: New versus Extension 117-118
C.9. Soft Costs by Complexity: Percentage of Guideway Not at Grade 119-120
C.10. Soft Costs by Complexity: Percentage of Guideway Below Grade 121-122
C.11. Relationships Among Other Category Unit Costs 123-124
C.13. Soft Costs and Project Development Budget 125-126
C.14. Soft Costs and Project Development Schedule 127-129
C.15. Vertical Profile and Soft Cost Measurement 130-130
C.16. Isolating Agency-Specific Effects 131-134
Abbreviations used without definitions in TRB publications 135-135

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