The quality and reliability of public transportation agencies’ cost estimates is very important to various stake holders, particularly those striving to develop cost-effective public transportation infrastructure projects. Thus far, research attention has focused primarily on “hard” costs (i.e., construction costs) with little research associated with project “soft” costs (i.e., at a minimum, costs described in FTA’s “Standard Cost Categories [SCC] Worksheet, SCC 80 – Professional Services”). There is a need for a better understanding of soft costs, the basis for these costs, the drivers for these costs, and the relationship of soft to hard costs and to total costs for public transportation infrastructure projects.
The objective of this project was to prepare a guidebook for estimating soft costs for major public transportation capital infrastructure projects. The guidebook should define the term “soft costs,” provide a clear understanding of the elements of soft costs, and provide tools to improve the quality and reliability of soft cost estimates. In addition, the guidebook should improve understanding of the relationship between soft and hard costs and total project costs for major public transportation capital infrastructure projects.
TCRP Report 138: Estimating Soft Costs for Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects: Part 1: Guidebook; Part 2: Final Report is an important resource that addresses the costs for professional services for major transit investments. The Guidebook is a resource intended for project managers and cost estimators working for transit agencies or other organizations in the early phases of planning a major fixed guideway public transportation project. It defines and describes soft costs and provides a new methodology to estimate soft costs based on historical projects. The Final Report presents more detailed technical information about this project’s data collection, methodology, and statistical analysis. While the Final Report may be used by transit agencies, it will also be used by regional governments, state and national departments of transportation, researchers, project sponsors, and cost estimators.