This report examines existing methods of benefit-cost analysis (BCA) in two areas, transportation policy and transportation planning, and suggests ways of modifying these methods to account for travel within a multimodal system. Although the planning and policy contexts differ substantially, this report shows how important multimodal impacts can be incorporated into both by using basic econometric techniques and even simpler rule-of-thumb methods. Case studies in transportation planning focus on the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), but benchmark California’s competencies by exploring methods used by other states and local governments. The report concludes with a list and discussion of recommendations for improving transportation planning models and methods. These will have immediate use to decision makers at Caltrans and other state DOTs as they consider directions for developing new planning capabilities. This project also identifies areas, and lays groundwork, for future research. Finally, by fitting the planning models into the broader context of transportation policy, this report will serve as a resource for students and others who wish to better understand BCA and its use in practice.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Planning and Policy

MTI Project



Benefit-cost analysis, travel demand, multimodal system


Public Policy | Transportation