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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance

About this Guidance

Section 11313(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Public Law 114-94 (December 4, 2015), requires the Secretary of Transportation to “enhance the usefulness of assessments of benefits and costs for intercity passenger rail and freight rail projects.”  As directed by Section 11313, FRA has issued benefit-cost analysis guidance (the BCA Guidance) to fulfill these requirements.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) strongly believes that the systematic process of identifying, quantifying, and comparing expected benefits and costs helps decision-makers organize information about and evaluate trade-offs among transportation investment alternatives. In addition to serving as a valuable tool for defining and narrowing investment alternatives, BCAs are also increasingly a prerequisite to receiving financial assistance under Federal investment programs, including those administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

FRA drafted our BCA Guidance to be consistent with the DOT BCA guidance, which covers a wide range of surface transportation projects (e.g., highways, transit, rail, and ports) under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program. The FRA BCA Guidance is intended to provide greater granularity and specificity to benefit and cost issues associated with intercity passenger rail and freight rail projects. 

The role of generating future updates to FRA’s BCA Guidance and assisting States and other grantees with performing BCA for rail projects now rests with FRA’s Office of Research, Data and Innovation (RDI).

Applicability to Financial Assistance Programs

While FRA considers the BCA Guidance to be effective upon its release, project sponsors and potential applicants for FRA financial assistance programs should refer to any Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcement for further instruction regarding the applicability of the BCA Guidance to a particular application or funding program.