#CitiesSkylines Lessons with Planning Part 2. A Mature City

Mature city presents its own challenges


In March I wrote a post on how the city simulator Cities Skylines can given some basic urban and transport planning lessons that cities face in real life (#CitiesSkylines Lessons with Planning). At that stage when I wrote the post Neo Layton City was at around 78,000 people so while not at the founding stage it was still in the rapid growth stage with both an established population and more people and industry arriving in the city. Fast forward to June 14 and Neo Layton City now hold 186,000 people with a mature economy and transport system. At this stage of the game the city is consider mature with Greenfield expansion slowing down and focus turning urban renewal projects as well as rejigging the transport system you first started laying out when the first sod was turned all that time ago. 


With Neo Layton City at the mature stage with people (citizens and tourists) and freight moving about those bus lanes you might have skimped out on start becoming real important. So does things like tram lines and even metro rail (subway or heavy surface rail). As I said in my #CitiesSkylines Shows Auckland Transport Bus Lanes:

In light of yesterday’s Auckland Transport to Miss Bus Patronage Targets maybe our transport engineers in Cities Skylines should pass a course in building a large city in the game with less than 50% of the traffic map in condition red (think the Southern Motorway parking lot at 5pm on a Friday afternoon). It with a bit of practice can be done so that your city does not seize up from traffic snarls. Yes there is still “congestion” which is the sign of a busy city but the city is still moving rather than seizing up like Auckland does.


Neo Layton City as of June 10, 2016
Neo Layton City as of June 10, 2016


In my current city – Neo Layton City there are four spots where I get a condition red on the roads with three of those spots due to industrial traffic from a near by industrial complex. The fourth spot is when the stadium finishes an evening game and everyone wants to go home.

I went back over the maps last night to check the traffic and transit situation. Yep those four traffic congestion spots were still there while the transit system does need rejigging given some of the routes (especially tram lines) were first placed when the City was under 50,000.


A recap on the transport system in Cities Skylines:

Some facts with Neo Layton City and in wider extent Cities Skylines:

  • Neo Layton City runs on the European Theme which I believe the citizens are more inclined to take public transport than the American Themes
  • I run the Improved Public Transport and Transport Manager Mods to help manage transit system
  • Traffic President and Traffic ++ V2 are also run which allow me to handle individual traffic lanes and intersections (including placement and phasing of lights or give-way/stop signs)
  • Rush Hour. This mod turns the transport system on its head. The game is “slowed down” to “real time” in which you have rush hour in the morning and evenings Monday – Friday, the commercial areas busy in weekends, and the leisure districts busy at night. The mod also allows for events which means PILE ON after an event is finished – aka traffic jams if your transit system is not up to scratch
  • Apart from cars and trucks the following transport features are used:
    • Bus/Taxi lanes
    • Cycle lanes (and cycle paths)
    • Bus Stations
    • Metro (Subway)
    • Taxis
    • Freight Train Depots
    • Trams
    • Passenger rail is not used owing to limitations
  • Use of mass transit depends on distance
    • Trams are for short distance running
    • Buses are mainly for medium distance often between two bus stations. Buses are also used in low density areas where trams are not in place there
    • Metro/subway is used for long distance or very dense areas (like between a stadium and a district with either Leisure or Tourism specialisations active given the amount of people moving between the two). The Metro’s as Metro #1 line would attest to carry more than the other modes given their capacity (420 passengers to a bus or tram’s 140) and high speed (120km/h)
    • Citizens do use bicycles to extend their commute outside a mass transit line or route
  • Any given time up to 12% of the population use public transport in Neo Layton City so with another 2,000 using bicycles
  • Traffic congestion is usually round at motorway interchanges and surrounding intersections from those interchanges


Oh and the international airport now has three subway routes running through it taking people to the City Centre in the north, Manukau in the east and Papakura in the south.


Those transport maps



You can see areas that run well with the traffic and areas that do not.

Now about that pig’s arse of an intersection at the eastern end of the City Centre:

The main pig's arse of traffic congestion in Neo Layton City. Industrial complex + City Centre + Motorway interchange = hell.
The main pig’s arse of traffic congestion in Neo Layton City. Industrial complex + City Centre + Motorway interchange = hell.


The area showing congestion is better than earlier where all the roads in this shot were red. What got the congestion more manageable (and lessened the ranting from the citizens) was some very quick wins that did not require ripping up the area. What I did in order to get the area moving again:

  1. The roads are generally 6-lane roads unless it has a tram line in which it is 4 lanes plus the two tram tracks. So with the non tram track roads two of the lanes (one each way) were converted to bus lanes. This allowed the busses, taxis and emergency services a more efficient way through the area especially as the City Centre Bus Station is near by
  2. Altering the road layout on which lanes go where (alter the turning lanes)
  3. Altered the traffic light sequence at two key intersections. This has proven to be the major help so far moving traffic through although it has not faced a rush hour situation yet
  4. Moved a tram stop back from an intersection to further up the road. This small move actually helped the trams move through the intersection quickly while not being a detriment to passengers

For the most part with intersections near a motorway junction (yep motorways cause congestion folks and act as drag on productivity) the congestion issues can be mitigated with better traffic light control phases. Something I must get around to eventually.


Mature City needing transit route rejigging

While people taking mass transit in Neo Layton City is considered good I know some of the routes especially the tram lines need rejigging to get better use out of a system that costs the budget $115,000 a cycle.

Public transport budget as well as the general budget Public transport is free on match days
Public transport budget as well as the general budget
Public transport is free on match days


The bus system costs the most followed by the subway system then the tram lines so while the tram line is the cheapest to run budget wise it also carries the least out of the three modes as seen below:

The mass transit network in Neo Layton City
The mass transit network in Neo Layton City


Using the Transport Lines and Improved Public Transport mods I can open up the mass transit management system and both inspect how the system is running as well as controlling how it runs (including fares, capacity, time and speed).

Basically to make the bus and tram system more effective I am going to have to through each line one by one to check:

  1. Line efficiency (is traffic jams holding the trams and busses up)
  2. Route serving the areas effectively
  3. Overloading meaning people get put off (oh hello Auckland Transport). This one is not usually a problem as the auto budget control system will delegate either larger busses (the big 115 bendy) and trams (the E-class tram carry 210 compared to 110 on the default tram) or putting more busses and trams on the set route

So like Auckland Transport I am going to have to spend some time: following the existing routes, check the loadings, check for traffic congestion and most likely go through an entire New Mass Transit Network system with the busses and the trams. This exercise does give me appreciation of what the public transport designers have gone through with the South Auckland New Bus Network due to start in October.

While I am going to be working through the new network of course brand new routes will still be built to fill in holes as well especially as Greenfield inspection continues.


Inspecting individual units, stops and routes


If you want to get to close as to a real city in running a mass transit system the above photos show how close you get in managing the individual components as well as the system as a whole via the Budget controls.

And to be honest I get more enjoyment (and frustrations) out of the controlling of the public transport system than plopping down the zones and infrastructure. To add to the enjoyment getting right down to person level to see the City from a first person point of view is fascinating as well.



So for the next wee while I will be focusing on some 90 bus and tram routes through a mature Neo Layton City and reworking them to be more effective and efficient moving people around the City. And yes lessons are learned in doing this as you do with other Urban Geography and urban transport points playing Cities Skylines.

And yes Max scofflaws thanks to the Rush Hour mod do happen. Scofflaws meaning:

  1. 2% of general traffic in a bus lane illegally
  2. Driving over footpaths
  3. Blocking intersections willy nilly


Traffic snarl up heading to the City Centre
Traffic snarl up heading to the City Centre (This was before the improvements in the area)