AVL technologies for highway maintenance activities, particularly snow removal, cost approximately $3,500 per fleet vehicle.

January 2004
Kansas,United States

Summary Information

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system is a fleet management tool that allows a fleet manager to monitor the fleet-vehicles’ location at any given time. Many systems can also indicate the status of each vehicle. AVL technology has been widely used by the trucking industry and, to some extent, by the transit and emergency management. AVL’s use in highway departments has been sporadic. However, several State Departments of Transportation (DOT) and municipal Public Works departments have implemented AVL and found it to be a valuable tool for maintenance and operations activities. The Kansas DOT (KDOT) conducted a study of the use of AVL technology for highway maintenance activities, in particular for snow removal, and reported the following cost estimates.

System Costs

Key items in an AVL system include base-station hardware, in-vehicle units, sensors, software, communications, system integration, repair and maintenance. For Kansas, a statewide system equipping 585 vehicles was estimated to cost approximately $9 million. The Table below, excerpted from the source report, shows the itemized cost estimates.

Kansas Statewide Implementation Costs of AVL for Snow Removal (In 2002 Dollars)
ItemsUnit RateNumber of UnitsAmount
Base station hardware$7,000 26 (One in each area)
Software (licensing)$25,000 for the first computer
$5,000 per additional
26 (One in each area)
Sensors and software
$15,000 (software)
In-Vehicle Units $3,500/unit585 units
Training (3 days on site)$3,000/area 26 units
Repair and Maintenance$4,000/year/area 26 areas
System integration$15,000/area 26 areas
Add data channel to radio system
Total initial expenditure

The most significant cost-item is the communications system, costing an estimated $6 million, which involves the implementation of a dedicated data channel to the existing 800 MHz radio system. The cost for in-vehicle items is estimated at $3,500 per vehicle, which included three different types of expenditures: an in-vehicle unit (IVU), comprising a GPS receiver; a data modem; and a mobile data terminal (MDT). Road and air temperature sensors were estimated to cost $600.

Operations and Maintenance Costs

For estimating costs, the AVL system was assumed to use KDOT’s radio system, and the operation and maintenance costs included primarily of maintenance and repair for the radio system’s dedicated data channel, the in-vehicle units, and the base station equipment. The total maintenance of the overall system was estimated to be $818,500 per year.

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Benefit-Cost Assessment of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) in Highway Maintenance

Author: Meyer, Eric, and I. Ahmed

Published By: Paper presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board

Source Date: January 2004

System Cost

$3,500 per fleet vehicle for in-vehicle equipment.

$9,000,000 for a 585-vehicle fleet (including communications costs).

$800,000 for maintenance of the 588-vehicle feet.


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Related Unit Cost Subsystems

Vehicle On-Board (VS)


road weather vehicle tracking, winter maintenance vehicle

Cost ID: 2008-00146