Chapter 5.5: Evaluation of Costs and Benefits
One decision criteria common to most programs is cost. Measuring the costs of each alternative relative to the benefits can be a difficult and sometimes imprecise process. Cost/Benefit analysis should not, consequently, be the sole decision criteria but should inform the ultimate decision process along with other goals and decision criteria.
Ideally, cost/benefit analysis should capture the entire range of costs and benefits for each alternative that planners consider. For instance, the costs and benefits may include increased fare box revenue, decreased tax revenue to the state, and decreased costs of state or local assistance programs. The analysis should also consider the costs and benefits from multiple perspectives. One stakeholder (local transit agency, or the state department of revenue) may incur costs while benefits accrue to other stakeholders (such as the state welfare agency, transit riders, and local employers).
Cost/Benefit analysis can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Consequently, initial efforts at planning for improved job access may not include cost/benefit analysis. As the planning effort gets more detailed in subsequent efforts, planners should endeavor to understand the relationships between costs and benefits of job-access programs.
One method for creating and conducting a cost/benefits analysis (the method used in the Wisconsin example, described below) is found in Appendix B.