Catching up with Manukau #CitiesSkylines #UrbanGeography

Some 700 photos – and been slacking off a bit

Some 700 photos between March and now means I have been slacking off a bit with updates to my cities here.

I won’t share all 700 in this post as that is picture OVERLOAD for anyone. So over the next few posts I will be staging all the photos including data sets for Manukau while sharing the Urban Geography story through Cities Skylines.

In the run up to upgrading the City Centre

Manukau City Centre and Downtown have received upgrades over the last four weeks as well some urban expansion including a new technology park. In the run up to those photos lets take a look at where we are at the moment with game-style in Manukau.

Starting with the trams that run through the City Centre and Downtown of Manukau

Trams in Cities Skylines are particularly useful as they can move towards 300 passengers per rolling stock unit compared to my largest bus (a bendy bus) moving 135 passengers. Unlike heavy rail and Metro Rail trams are integrated into the urban area (no severance) and can blend other features like cycle ways. Trams are also quieter than monorails as well.

The main problem is they are at grade with the traffic and get caught at intersections causing congestion as seen below:

I am going to have to bite the bullet and replace the trams with monorail which takes the same road as trams but is elevates – so not fouled by intersections. Noise is easily mitigated mind you through trees and some rezoning (commercial loves monorail stations, residents don’t). Ah well onwards and upwards!

Buses

My workhorses of the transit fleet:

Buses I divided into three classes to make most of their flexibility:

  1. Light: these are feeder busses running every 15-20mins either all day or in daylight hours. These as they say they do feed into larger transit lines and will seat between 30-70 people per bus. Bus priority not often used except near transit hubs
  2. Standard: this is where the bus is the primary mover of people in a given area. The budget varies and allows frequencies between every 5 minutes in peak and 20mins off peak (night). Capacity ranges from 30 to 90 passengers per bus and bus lanes are seen on arterial roads
  3. Metro: this is where the big bendy buses (130 passenger) ply their trade often on busways connecting different Districts within the City. Frequencies are every 3-5 minutes and bus lanes or bus ways are used along most of their route. Metro buses can also feed into Metro Rail where the Metro rail runs north-south and the Metro Bus will run east-west intersecting the metro-rail at a transit hub. If the Metro buses are constantly overloaded I will swap them out for Trams or Metro Rail (more often Metro Rail owing to their grade separation above or below ground)

Bus Hubs of various sizes are used depending on purpose with some also interconnected with trams and mono-rail stations as well. And as expected Transit Oriented Developments are utilised around the bus hubs or transit interchanges as well to get best utilisation.

Bus Lanes and Busways:

Cycleways and Pedestrian paths

Cycleways and pedestrian paths I tend to use to connect cul-de-sacs up to nearby main roads. However, when your City has a river or three running through them cycleways and pedestrian paths become good cheap sources of moving people from A to B without needing the car clogging the area. Paths can also included Shared Spaces (with cars) or Pedestrian Malls.

Some examples:

Of course separated cycle lanes and ordinary cycle lanes help too:

Big Data Mk1

Finally the data sets I use in both planning and evaluating decisions when working on the City. The data set is very rich and covers a wide range of topics including even individual transit lines as you are about to see:

Cities Skylines is a bit more than slapping down some roads and zones. To make the City function optimally you have to respond to happenings and plan for them as well. The data sets can help especially with transport, electricity, water and amenities – unless you want the City to lock up and the residents sick.

A final shot of Manukau in the prelude before we go over to how the City is currently and how it got there:

Manukau Continues to Grow, Using the Toolkit to Make the City Function #CitiesSkylines

Maps, Big Data and pictures – how to make the City flow

When your City surges from 109,000 to 133,000 in two days of game play (basically the equivalent of Auckland’s growth from 2010 until 2019 (today)) you need to have your wits about you to keep the City functioning and flowing.

How do you do this? Using the Cities Skylines equivalent of BIG DATA – and lots of pictures:

From aerial photos, to transit line maps, to congestion maps, demographics and even the terrain I can access it all at the click of a button.

These photos and Big Data sets is what influences how I plan the City ahead for future development while also handling problems like traffic congestion and transit use overload (too many passengers for a particular mode on a particular Line). Essentially I become a Geographer, Transport Engineer, Planner, Urban Designer and Demographer all in one go in order to keep the City functioning.

Failure to do so means mass abandonment and the City going nearly bankrupt as Biffa tried to avoid with this disaster:

Big Data and aerial photos, your City builder friend.

And yes the traffic is flowing well as it stays above 70% with the main two congestion points (City Centre and Cruise Terminal) going through their “Business Cases” for the upcoming upgrades.

Those sodding Business Cases 😛

Some Random Happenings in #CitiesSkylines oh and CRUISE SHIPS

Finally the cruise boats arrive

 

I have been a bit busy on the Urban Geography in real life side of the ledger meaning not much time with Cities Skylines at the moment.

 

However, I have managed to squeeze a few hours in there and there and have continued to work on the Downtown District.

The two cruise ship terminals have also finally started attracting cruise ships into the City now meaning more tourists and more revenue.

I also had to replace all my substations after an asset swap in the STEAM Workshop caused the deletion of the old model that I was using. No matter all the substations are replaced and power is flowing back into the City from Nuclear City!

 

With Downtown established and maturing I will turn my attention to Sheffield Square as well as connecting the City Centre up to the International Airport with heavy rail (it already has a monorail line running through it.

In the meantime some pictures:

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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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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!

 

Layton City is Back #CitiesSkylines

Flagship City has returned

 

The release of the Mass Transit DLC caused a few hiccups for my establish Cities in Cities Skylines. While I got San Solarian City fixed up quickly my flagship Layton City was more troublesome.

 

The problem was two-fold:

  • Old subway stations needed replacing
  • An array issue meant the game stalled

Replacing the subway stations (and for that matter having to redraw a heavy rail route) was slow but easier of the two tasks. The array issue (mechanics were beyond the capability of the simulation engine) was something else as the issue could only be “fixed” when the simulation pause. That said after some checking on the Forums it was a simple case of “CLEAR TRAFFIC” which clears the traffic off the roads and starts the simulation again from that point. Given it was a Saturday (industry is offline) it was easier to have the reset done.

 

And from there Layton City is working again and I am reminded I have to fix up the bus and tram routes cause it looks worse than Auckland right now…..

So here is some aerial shots of Layton City in the day and night:

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And the night shots:

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Good to have the City back. Not so fun going to sort the routes all out when the Transport Lines Manager is poked!