How Much Do Special Services Cost?

Mark Shields
June 25, 2024


It’s not news to anyone that QC, like every other data collection vendor, supplies dozens of different customizable data types outside of the usual flagship tube counts and TMCs. This includes things like Bluetooth O-D, drone studies, horizontal curve assessments, and much more. One common question we get from clients is “how do you price special services”? It is nearly impossible to state what our rates are due to the varying scale and complexity of customized survey approaches, but this article addresses what drives the costs of some of our more unique service offerings.


The market costs for this service typically ranges from $800-$1000 per unit per week depending on the vendor, length of time the units are deployed, and number of units deployed. It’s important to understand that the technology varies by vendor as well. We may be more expensive than some of our competitors, but you’re paying for both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy detection when using QC. Detecting both of these signals from passing devices can result in sample rates up to approximately one third of total roadway volume (up from 10-15% with Bluetooth Classic alone). In other words, the equipment and data are better, so the service is priced accordingly relative to competing products.


Those involved in the drone services market have unfortunately confused “competitive” pricing for “cheap”, driving the costs of this service down to a point where it’s no longer a worthwhile venture for most data collection vendors. We still offer this service due to client demand but recognize that we don’t have the least expensive pilots.

Our rates are per hour and are driven by several factors: the equipment we use (untethered or tethered), the liability insurance we carry, the cost of pilot licensure, the time it takes to properly coordinate flights with local police departments and property owners, the time on site, any down time between collection periods, and the cost of post-processing. It’s challenging, if not impossible, to commit to a standard pricing model due to the significant variations in project demands that we experience when using drones.


There’s no one-size-fits-all price for HCA services either. Typical drivers of service cost include the number of centerline miles surveyed, how spaced out the miles are from one another (which is frequently the case with statewide HCA collection projects), CARS licensing costs (it varies by number of miles purchased), how many passes are required (at least two is recommended), and whether sign inventory is also requested. Add those things together and the resulting costs can range from $60-$160 per centerline mile of surveying depending on the specifics.


Our team fields dozens of requests every month for non-standard deliverables, including things like saturation flow, queueing, delay, TNC pickup/drop offs, and more. Our team employs a processing time multiplier when deciding the rates for these services. In some cases, this is to our clients’ advantage in that an hour of video takes perhaps one quarter of an hour to process, dropping costs significantly. We decide on this multiplier, ranging from .25x for a queue study to 8x for trajectory analysis, based on thousands of hours of historical studies. We analyze those past projects with comparable schema to decide on our multiplier and use that for the newly scoped study. This results in a range of $50-$250 per hour of video collection and processing.

While this list isn’t conclusive, it should help shed some light on why our rates vary so much between a local HCA project and something statewide, or a single hour of drone surveillance versus 12 continuous hours of tethered recording. At the end of the day, pricing is carefully crafted based on our many years of traffic counting experience so that we can keep projects on time and on budget.

Mark Shields
As Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Mark is responsible for QC’s Proposal, Business Development, Marketing, and DataPoint Sales teams. Starting at QC as an Operations Manager, his project management experience involves methodology development, scoping, overseeing fieldwork tasks, data processing, and delivery for efforts ranging from small TIAs and neighborhood counts through state coverage programs and nationwide research projects.