Getting Started

The application is simple and easy to use. Here are a few terms that are important to understanding cost allocation.

  • Cost Allocation: the act of taking a sum of operating costs and distributing that sum to individual transit routes, transit services, or jurisdictions.
  • Fully Allocated Cost: a fully allocated cost means a cost that represents the full cost of a transit route or service, including all costs incurred by the transit agency—both variable and fixed.
  • Variable Costs: costs that are mainly a function of the amount of service provided. For example, the cost of fuel, parts, and driver wages are variable costs. They change with the amount of service provided.
  • Fixed Costs: costs that do not change with the amount of service provided (in the short run). For example, the cost of facility maintenance, administration salaries, or management computers do not change with the amount of service provided.

If you are new to cost allocation, it is recommended you become familiar with a few basic concepts. The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) recently offered a course on cost allocation for transit operators. A recording of the course, along with worksheets and handouts, can be found here. Cost Allocation - A Mini Course

Other resources related to cost allocation and specific to the Cost Allocation Calculator are listed below.

Whether you prefer the Excel or Access version of the Cost Allocation Calculator, there are four tabs where you will fill in data. The table below describes each tab.

  1. Enter Service Data

  2. Enter Financial Data

Route / Service Name​: Given name of the service.

NTD Mode: Options include nine fixed-route and demand responsive travel modes.

NTD Jurisdiction: Name of the jurisdiction or geography where the service operates. Assign either an urbanized area (UZA), rural area (non- UZA), or other geography name such as a city or county.

Service Type​: Options include Directly Operated or Purchased Transportation.

Sponsored Type​: Options include General Public Service or Sponsored. Choose Sponsored to suballocate costs for shared-ride services.

Primary Funding Source: Name of the primary source of funding supporting the route/service. Assign either a federal grant program, state program, or local funding source name to the route/service.

Choose USOA Object Class: Select the appropriate USOA Object Class for the expense from the available options.

Subclass: Select the appropriate subclass for the expenses from the available options, corresponding with the use of the expense for the transit agency. Cost function options include operations, dispatch, fuel, vehicle maintenance, non-vehicle maintenance, and administrative.

Enter Amount ($): Write in the amount of the expense using numeric text only; no commas are necessary.

  3. Enter Operational Data

  4. Allocate Costs

Revenue Hours: Number of revenue hours for the route/service.

Vehicle Hours: Number of total vehicle hours for the route/service.

Revenue Miles: Number of revenue miles for the route/service.

Vehicle Miles: Number of total vehicle miles for the route/service.

Passenger Trips: Number of passenger trips for the route/service.

For Sponsored Services Only:

Sponsor Name: Name of the sponsored service.

Passenger Hours: Number of passenger hours for the sponsored service.

Passenger Miles: Number of passenger miles for the sponsored service.

Sponsored Trips: Number of passenger trips for the sponsored service.

Allocate expenses information at the push of a button once data has been entered in the previous steps.

Click on the Allocate Costs button to run the cost allocation calculations. Then, go to the Summary Report section of the application to view the cost allocation tables.

Instruction Manual

The instruction manual is a comprehensive guide explaining the methodology behind the Cost Allocation Calculator and offering detailed instructions for both the Excel and Access versions.

Download Instructional Manual


Instructional Webinar

Excel Version: Webinar | Powerpoint

Access Version: Webinar | Powerpoint


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to collect new data for my service in order to use the calculator?
A: The Cost Allocation Calculator relies on data normally readily available to every urban, small urban, rural, or tribal transit agency. No new data collection will be necessary to use the calculator.

Q: Can I use the Cost Allocation Calculator for a single route/servic​?
A: The calculator application is designed to allocate expenses to multiple routes/services. Using the application for a single route would have all expenses going to the route, with no allocation taking place. The benefit of the calculator comes from using the application for multiple routes/services.

Q: How can I use the Cost Allocation Calculator for services with shared rides?

A: The calculator application is designed to allow users to suballocate expenses for shared-ride demand responsive services. Classify the route/service as Sponsored during Step 1 while entering Service Data. Then in Step 3 you can enter the sponsor names and passenger hours, miles, and trips for each sponsor that is part of the shared-ride services. The Summary Report will have a report with the cost allocation results for suballocated costs by sponsor within the shared-ride service.

Q: Can the application be used across multiple years/time periods​?
A: The application is designed to store data for a single time period and is designed to be used annually. For each time period you should save a new version of the application before clearing old data.

Q: How do I use the Access version of the calculator if I don’t have Microsoft Access license?

A: If you do not have MS Access installed on your computer, search for the “Microsoft Access 2016 Runtime” or “Office 365 Access Runtime” extensions online (depending on your current version of Microsoft Office) and download the extension in order to run the Access version of this application.

Federal Transit Administration

National Transit Database Glossary

TRCP Report 144 – Sharing the Cost of Human Services Transportation

Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principals, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, (OMB),

Uniformed System of Accounting

FTA’s Uniform System of Accounts


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