Impending Auckland Transport Mess Up With City Centre Street – This is How You Design City Centre Streets #CitiesSkylines

Match the mode for the space

Auckland Transport Executives and the Chair again prove that they are talk and no action when it comes to the livability of a City especially its City Centre. The latest from AT in regards to Customs Street having busses removed to improve the flow of cars through a core City Centre area made me shake my head at the minimum. Greater Auckland were not impressed either:

To turn Customs Street into a 6 lane car sewer will sever Britomart and the Ferry Terminal from Queen Street and the core of the City Centre that follows Queen Street to uptown. Thoroughfare traffic should be using the motorway network and Grafton Gully if people need to get from east Auckland to the Harbour Bridge and vice versa. Customs Street would become an excellent transit mall for busses and maybe Light Rail linking Britomart to Symonds Street, Fanshawe Street and the Light Rail Lines heading to Wynyard Quarter and the North Shore. Speaking of which where is 6 lanes of Customs Street cars meant to go when part of it and Fanshawe Street will reduce those lanes to make way for Light Rail.

Again Auckland Transport Executives not exactly thinking nor seeing the value of Integrated Planning.

 

Cities Skylines Urban Design Offers Lessons

While marco-level planning is what I usually do it does not mean I am going to skimp out in creating quality public spaces for my Cims and the tourists. And of course the City Centre is the prime public space.

Large roads will still be seen but they will not be running through the guts of the City Centre but rather forming the border with smaller 4 lane roads feeding into the guts of the City Centre from the 6-lane roads and then the 2-lane roads, shared streets, lane-ways, transit malls and pedestrians malls forming the interior network.

You will see 4-lane roads running through the City Centre but these roads will often contain one or more of the following:

  1. bus lanes
  2. Light Rail
  3. Cycle ways

This allows transit and service vehicles to have continued access to core of the City Centre as people, goods and even the trash have to be moved around (and out of) the City Centre.

But I am not going to put large 6-lane road or the huge 12 lane road right through the middle of my City Centre as it would split it in half causing severance (and a tonne load of noise)

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If you are wondering about this 6-laner that has two bus lanes with that runs right by the Central Station there is a reason why I have done this. First of all a large 12-platform heavy rail (with subway underneath) station to place it in the middle of the City Centre would sever the place even worse than the 6 or even 12 lane roads. So in this instance the station sits on the southern border of San Layton City Centre to which (and keeping consistent with above) a large road forms that norther border of said City Centre. Remember heavy rail is bringing in commuters from longer distances so to travel within the City Centre itself you have:

  1. Subway
  2. Bus (hence the bus lanes)
  3. Cycleways
  4. Monorail
  5. Light Rail

All which are less space intensive!

 

In any case this is the urban geographic layout of San Layton City – to which I will be focusing on the City Centre:

 

 

San Layton City is a dual-core City with multiple satellites all connected by either road or some form of transit (usually rail).

If you are wondering what the following picture and subsequent pictures like it are this is the closest I get to a Shared Space:

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While these are pedestrian or transit malls:

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Right without further ado here is 9am Sunday morning in San Layton City Centre:

 

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Monorail does look quite Gotham:

 

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Street Trees do wonders:

 

 

And now for Central Station and some big roads – oh and a sky cafe. You can also see the monorail running through the City Centre as well:

 

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And now the main road that connects the City Centre up to the Satellites further east. Centre Bank is the main leisure area on the other side of the rail station:

 

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Finally the second bit minor City Centre – Washington Heights and how that is built around a bus station. Again the larger roads form the boundaries with smaller roads often transit malls or shared spaces forming the interior network :

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This is how you outlay your City Centre. Not with big 6 lane car sewers but with public spaces and extensions of living rooms using shared spaces, pedestrian and transit malls and of course transit lanes!!!

Even 9am on a Sunday the City Centre is teeming with Cims!

 

Who Say’s I Don’t Do Green #CitiesSkylines

100% clean green power

 

There are several ways I like to keep my cities green in Cities Skylines:

  1. Power production will often come from low-carbon emitting sources including hydro or nuclear. I do use the Waste to Energy Incinerators that produce small amounts of air and ground pollution but they make up no more than 1% of total power production
  2. Recycling centres and recycling is a must
  3. EV cars are encouraged city-wide
  4. Mass deployment of mass transit
  5. Street Trees
  6. Urban Forests
  7. Green self-sustained residential buildings in some Districts

Okay that was a few more than several 😉

 

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The big two pollution emitters are power production and transport (followed by heavy industry). Heavy industry pollution is handled by urban forests and the Filter Waste policy meaning factories have to filter their sewerage before it heads out to the sewerage plants. This leaves power production and transport.

 

Power production

I follow what I preach when it comes to power production for a City. So if I say I believe in 100% (or near to it) Low Carbon Power Production then I follow through into Cities Skylines:

 

For San Layton City:

  1. 1,449MW of power is produced as electricity coming from:
    1. 1,254MW (or 86.6%) coming from two nuclear reactors
    2. 80MW from Geothermal
    3. 50MW from incinerators
    4. 65MW from on and offshore Wind turbines
  2. 400MW comes from Geothermal based bores sent through to the City as District Centralised Heating (steam or hot water)
  3. Using electricity map (and assuming the incinerators let off as much as a biomass plant) the carbon output is: 37g/CO2/Per KW or 98% low carbon – same as France as of writing this post

 

As you say when I say Green I do Green!

As for transit I invest in most modes depending on the Geography of the City. Patronage is about 50% of the population (using transit) with more using cycling. Given San Layton has two Cores connected by heavy rail and monorail with urban islands coming off of them (surrounded by pasture or forests) that are interconnected also by all forms of rail and bus it is quite easy to move around the city without the need of a car – even going to the industrial complexes.

And yes my transit system runs 24/7 on an integrated fare system. Quite interesting to see even the big 135 bendy busses straining to keep up with passenger demand at 3am in the morning of a Saturday or Sunday as the night owls like to party.

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#CitiesSkylines Park Life is Out and I am Having an Absolute Blast. Also Urban Geography and Green Utility Skills Tested

DLC handles well with a few minor bugs

Well one of those bugs is pretty major if I can not place down the International Airport in your map.

Anyway yesterday the Cities Skylines Park Life DLC came out so I decided to give it a whirl – once the crucial Mods were updated. I didn’t have to wait long as by mid-day the Mods were updated and away I went for the rest of the day.

First a quick prelude in Park Life from Paradox:

Cities: Skylines – Parklife is NOW AVAILABLE!

 

……

Source: Steam

So what did I get up to?

Well the normal Urban Geography game play of building and tweaking continues as always. A new major suburb known as Kent Square was opened up in one of San Layton’s bays connecting the City Centre and Centre Park to the historic area of the City.

That said the Satellite method (establish a Core connected by multiple urban satellites) is being tried in San Latyon City and should be easier to do with Nature Reserves (part of the new DLC) being able to be established in between urban areas.

As of today San Layton City has two “City Parks” and one Amusement Park. The first Nature Reserve and a Zoo are in the planning pipeline for when I next load the game.

 

Park Life

Some early photos of Park Life in action:

The initial look around

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Building our first “City Park”

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All Aboard the sight seeing bus linking the Amusement Park with Centre Park (Convention Centre, Casino, Sky Tower and Monorail hub)

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Some quick broad shots

 

And now for the tram between Centre Park and the historic area:

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Finally some shots from a hot air balloon and other random shots:

 

 

I will get the Nature Reserve and Zoo built next week and test the Green Utility out further as the City continues to expand.

 

#CitiesSkylines New Expansion Out Next Month: PARKS – Lots and Lots of PARKS

No not car parks

 

Paradox and Colossal Order have announced a new DLC coming out for their vaunted hit – Cities Skylines

 

From Paradox via STEAM:

We’re thrilled to announce Parklife, our next expansion for Cities: Skylines!

……

Source: https://steamcommunity.com/games/255710/announcements/detail/3339858483831123709

 

This will be great for my latest city San Layton City as I try new Urban Geography techniques including large park spaces and the use of those paths – that currently I can not build beside – yet!

I was also thinking last week that my City is missing a theme park like my flagship city had in Sim City 4 (it spanned half a map tile in the region).

 

As a result I will put my City on hold so I can make maximum use of the new DLC – when it comes out May 25 – the day after my Birthday

 

Thanks Paradox and Colossal Order!

 

 

Monorail! #CitiesSkylines

Let’s try Monorail

We are all familiar The Simpsons and Monorail:

 

There is even an essay on Monorails and Urban Geography: MONORAIL: A KEY URBAN LESSON FROM THE SIMPSONS. So last night I decided for the first time in Cities Skylines to build a monorail line from the City Centre to Thorton Park halfway across the map.

At the moment the line only has two stations on it (same as the heavy rail network) as San Layton City is a very young city having only being founded a month ago (real-time).

 

None-the-less I built the line and it designed for more stations as the City expands. Once you get the 70km/h speed restriction off the train moves as fast as heavy rail allowing very rapid connections.

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 You can also see some of the first developments here:

Now to get the daily rush hour of traffic under control (caused mainly by inter city traffic rather than intra city commuting)

 

Introducing San Layton City A #CitiesSkylines New Creation

Testing out new features

 

San Solaria recently reached its limits as the game as a vehicle agent limit of 15,000 to prevent the computer being overtaxed. This means your cities without a mod to break the limit mature out at around 300,000 to 500,000 as San Solaria did. I will keep going back to San Solaria to tweak it but in the meantime it is time to start a new city.

 

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San Layton City looking towards the ranges

 

Introducing San Layton City – A Green City

San Layton City will be the first city I have built from scratch since the Green Cities DLC came out in October last year. Rather than retrofitting back as I did with San Solaria, San Layton will be built with Green ideals and planning in mind.

Monorail will be used for the first time ever while heavy rail for commuting will be used again (not every City I build uses heavy rail for commuting) as I look at building satellite cities as well as a main core.

As always Green Power will be at the forefront with nuclear, geothermal and wind (no rivers for Hydro in this map) used as base power and the use of residential solar, and E-cars also to be City-wide policy.

 

So away we go with San Layton City – a Green City!

 

Redesigning the Transit Network #CitiesSkylines Style. Lessons for Auckland

Could Cities Skylines transit network redesign offer hints for Auckland’s poor accessibility to transit?

 

Yesterday a paper was released by MRCageny on accessibility to transit and basically how Auckland’s accessibility let alone equity to transit sucked.

The paper can be found in the Tweet below and I’ll write on this more extensively next month after the Summer Series concludes:

 

 

And yes Auckland pretty much sucks at accessibility:

 

 

I have also written on accessibility in the past over at Talking Southern Auckland when the Manukau South Link was a topical issue:

Manukau South Link catchment close up by Saeid Adli

 

Cities Skylines offers lessons

 

Having to redo your entire transit network becomes a must as your City matures and approaches larger sizes. Bus lines end up a mess as the City expands while trams don’t operate efficiently due to expanded roads and lack of priority measures. As much as you can forward plan it some days a reformat is required.

 

 

San Solaria’s bus and trams will need a reformat as they are not tying in well with the subway network and central bus stations throughout the City. Patronage use to exceed total vehicles on the road but recently it is struggling to match one-third of its previous peaks.

Route accessibility has become the problem with routes going everywhere BUT where people wanted and this has a double knock on effect. The first being less people on the transit network means more cars on the road. More cars on the road means roads and intersections are more jammed up blocking busses and trams. Given the tram and bus network was designed around San Solaria being a mono-core City but in reality it has matured into a two Core city accessibility fast becomes a problem. Also as industry expands into new complexes the population becomes more diverse in its travel patterns.

Sounds a lot like Auckland right?

 

 

 

So time to delete about 10 tram lines and 75 bus lines (some more recent ones will stay) and reformat the surface transit network!

Fun times ahead!

 

 

 

San Solaria Going Green Continues #CitiesSkylines

New Green policy continues

I speak Green in Twitter I follow Green on #CitiesSkylines.  As shown in San Solaria Leads the Way in Low Carbon Future San Solaria gets 95% of its power from green sources while 1/3 of the Districts are ‘Green’ Districts  and several more following E-cars for residents.

 

The last week I have been developing up Solarian Ranges after completing the last of surrounds with Laytonville which is situated at the bottom of the Solarian Range hills. Solarian Ranges is the (at the time) latest Green community situation up in the Solarian Ranges next to the Solarian Dam (the main hydro power station and fresh water storage site). It is accessible by a single two lane highway or cable car traversing the Ranges. Given the Solarian Lake tourism value Solarian Ranges is serviced by busses connecting it to the Laytonville Harbour Ferry Interchange.

 

Green is the name of the game from the roads, buildings, organic produce, residential self-sufficiency, bio fuelled busses, recycling centre, EV charging stations and the combustion engine ban.

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Solarian Ranges continued:

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Solarian River and Laytonville Heights also continue to mature well as Green communities:

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Finally a preview at the latest Green community – Solarian Point:

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Next up: Solarian Point – San Solaria’s latest green community. After that we take a ride on a cable car and the subway to the Airport.

 

All here in Ben’s Cities!

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San Solaria Leads the Way in Low Carbon Future

95% of power from clean sources – sodding incinerators hold up the rest

 

Emissions free power or close to it. I talk about and advocate for it but do I lead by example within #CitiesSkylines?

 

This graph is from San Solaria City on where its electricity comes from:

San Solaria Power Production

If you wanted it in pure numbers:

  • Hydro from two dams: 400MW
  • Wave from two generators: 22MW
  • Nuclear from two reactors: 1,382 MW
  • Incinerators (around 10) 110MW
  • Wind from both onshore and offshore: 252MW
  • Total 2,166MW produced
  • Total consumed at peak is 1,924MW average is 1,550MW
  • Geothermal central district heating has a total output of 400MW with the average of 300MW being consumed (thus saving 300MW from the main generators)
  • 2,166MW total power production (not including Geothermal central heating) comes from a total Budget set at 73% both day and night

 

Transport wise of the 41 districts in the City about 10 of them require residents within those districts to have Electric Cars only with five of those ten districts also having a Combustion Engine ban (except for service traffic).

Policies such as self sufficient residential buildings and local/organic produced produce is also in effect in about 10 of the Districts as well with all new non industrial districts to have those polices and the E Car policy in effect.

 

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Street Trees are also a major push:

 

Charging stations:

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Going Green matters and San Solaria does its best walking the talk!

Does your City?

 

Trans City vs Local District Transit. #CitiesSkylines Lessons for Auckland

Final Part of the Series (Part 6) in Lessons for Auckland

 

In my ALL ABOARD. Light Rail Moving You Around. Lessons for Auckland post I had mentioned the two types of tram systems I run:

Four new tram lines were built with two connecting to the wider city and two travelling within the area forming a City Link type circuit. The photos below are of City Boulevard Lines 1 and two that run as a loop down the new Boulevard and through Forrest Road (one of the two east-west parallel roads). The other two lines that were later built are:

  • City Centre to Airport LRT Line. Think of it as Solaria’s City Centre to Airport via Dominion Road, Auckland equivalent with the Airport-Solarian Line (a metro/subway line) as the express Southern Airport Line).
  • Thorton Hills Interchange – City Boulevard Line. This links up the new urban area to a major interchange that serves busses and an inter-city train station

 

 

Lessons for Auckland?

Do not be afraid of Light Rail and also Light Rail is good for small intra suburb running as well as big trans-city running like Airport Lines.

Two of the four new tram lines are intra-suburb running – meaning the line runs within a single district rather than multiple districts. I can control individual line budgets meaning I can select capacity ranges from 75 to 210 passengers. As a comparison a bio-fuel bus holds 40 passengers while the bendy busses hold 130 and let off a pile of diesel fumes along the way. So rather clogging my nice new urban area up with smelly busses I can use smaller trams to move passengers around while stepping up capacity as demand increases.

Manukau City Centre and Manukau/Wiri would be a perfect example of such a Light Rail scheme that connects into a larger LRT scheme like the Southern Airport Line (Manukau to the Airport via Puhinui Station) or in Cities Skylines the two City Boulevard Lines connecting into the bigger trans-city lines.

The two bigger lines being the Thorton Interchange to City Centre Line and the Airport to City Centre LRT Line both which run through part of the City Boulevard Lines.

 

Airport and NW Lines
Airport and NW Lines Source: AKL Urban Design via Twitter Note: Not final for statioms

 

In this case these two bigger lines run through multiple districts and centres so using the big E-class tram that holds 210 passengers will be more viable (remember my biggest bus is only 130 passengers).

……..

Source: ALL ABOARD. Light Rail Moving You Around. #CitiesSkylines Lessons for Auckland

 

The rule of thumb I usually follow with transit is this:

  • Busses for short distances and feeders into major interchanges
  • Light Rail for medium distances
  • Heavy Rail (and Metro Rail with Cities Skylines) for long distances or high capacity shuttling such as a major transport interchange and a stadium

In Cities Skylines I usually follow the above rules with a couple of exceptions. From time to time I will build a busway to allow busses to do medium distance running while light rail can be used for short distance running.

 

The Laytonville Busway

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But it is the LRT system I have set up that is of more interest as it gives lessons to Auckland as we try to set up an LRT system of our own.

This map shows the transit system in San Solarian City. The dash lines are the ferries, thick lines the Metro Lines and the thin lines are the trams:

TLM_MAP_San Solarian City_2055.01.31

 

As noted before I run both trans-city tram lines and tram lines that run within a single district (local loop running). Both classes of lines connect to each other either at a common station/stop or a slight over lap of the lines in some areas (two tram lines sharing the same bit of road/track) to allow transfers.

The question is why am I using trams for shot distance running? Answer One is capacity while answer two is ambience.

Busses are smelly, noisy and hold fewer passengers compared to the trams. Don’t get me wrong busses have their place including the biofuel bus but in a large City they just don’t cut the mustard when wanting to move people between areas (and between Metro Stations).

In high ambience areas like City Boulevard, the City Centre and Laytonville having lots of busses running around isn’t my idea of fostering ambience. This is why the trams are used in local loop running like City Boulevard Lines 1 and 2.

I can control budgets of individual lines so I can determine the capacity required:

 

So for the City Boulevard Lines trams that hold 75 passengers (still more than the biofuel bus (40)) are adequate while the Trans City Lines get the big 210 passenger trams.

 

City Centre – Thorton Hills LRT Line via City Boulevard

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Airport to City Centre via William and City Boulevards

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City Boulevard Line including Forrest Street

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Lessons for Auckland?

The Northern Airport Line will be Light Rail while I am pushing the Manukau to Airport section of the Southern Airport Line to be Light Rail (Manukau to Botany will be bus).

The first is about capacity to meet demand (The Southern Airport Line intersects Manukau Bus Station and Puhihui Train Station that have heavily patronised transit lines running through them) and the second is about ambience especially in a major Metropolitan Centre like Manukau.

Manukau or rather Transform Manukau is 600 hectares in size compared to the main City Centre being around 385ha (this does NOT include Port of Auckland but does include Wynyard Quarter). Manukau is also in the middle of a large regeneration program that includes intensification and upgrades of public spaces. Manukau is also forecast to house 20,000 new residents (I say it can hold double) over the next decade or so.

Simply put given its large size busses are not going to quite cut it moving people around Manukau nor to and from it to another major employment area like the Airport. Ambience is also in play and like the City Centre having a high amount busses inside Manukau doesn’t exactly work either.

Running higher capacity trams along the Northern Airport Line through the Airport and down to Manukau via the Southern Airport Line would be Auckland’s example of my Airport to City Centre LRT via William Boulevard Line coupled with the Airport to Laytonville Metro Line.

A LRT Line doing a circuit of Manukau and Manukau City Centre linking up the main commercial area, main residential area to the south, the events centre to the south-east and AUT to the north-east would be an example of my City Boulevard Lines.

Botany Sky Train Line Revised Manukau Loop
Botany Sky Train Line Revised Manukau Loop
Botany Line AT version
The Southern Airport Line is Option 1 (Red). Source: Auckland Transport

 

Remember via budget control you can use smaller trams (that can be coupled up to make larger units as I can in Cities Skylines (75, 150, 210 (same as the single unit E-class)) to start with and up the capacity as the demand allows.

I believe in the dig once, get it right policy that New Zealand struggles with (due to our often lack of foresight). While building LRT instead of a busway for the Southern Airport Line between Manukau and the Airport is more expensive those costs are paid off pretty quickly from the demand and ambience side.

 

 

Remember the Southern Airport Line intersects the Southern and Eastern (heavy rail) Lines widening the catchment of that particular Airport Line. You also have the Manukau Bus Station that is THE PRIMARY bus and inter-city bus station for South Auckland (like Britomart is for wider Auckland). So the demand for trams will be there straight off the bat (even if we use smaller single car trams to start with that can be later connected up like our current electric trains). As for bus congestion not applying in Manukau? Well I do not want to get to that point unlike the City Centre and as I try to avoid in Cities Skylines (and when I don’t it is a mess to untangle).

Remember ambience is the name of the game and having busses trundle through Manukau is not my idea of ambience. Again LRT like my City Boulevard Lines are great for localised loop running to move people around an area – especially are large area that has many focal points like Manukau does inside its 600ha area.

Manukau Project area
Source: Panuku Development Auckland
Manukau Transform Project area
Source: Panuku Development Auckland

 

Don’t forget that budget control measure for capacity.

 

Finally and again yes placing LRT down in Manukau is more expensive than bus rapid transit but once LRT is down you will not have to dig up the area again because the busses went over capacity (often too quickly).

Let’s get it right the first time every time!

 

San Solaria City has offered quite a few lessons for Auckland. I hope you have enjoyed this cross over with Talking Southern Auckland.  I might do another cross over next year as San Solaria continues to evolve or when I start a new city on a new map.

 

Happy gaming and urbanism!