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!




Disasters on the way to #CitiesSkylines

What chaos could I bring to my citizens?


If flooding from intense storms and traffic pile ups were not enough to bring misery to a cims life in Layton City it seems I will be able to throw a few more man-made and natural disasters to spice things up


This Summer Cities Skylines will introduce disasters:


From Steam:

Natural Disasters will include:

  • Deep, Impactful Gameplay: Keep your city going through the devastation of several possible doomsday scenarios, from towering infernos to the day the sky exploded
  • With Great Power Comes Great Response Abilities: Plan for, and respond to, disasters using early warning systems, countermeasures, and new disaster responses such as helicopters and evacuations – finally, a Paradox game where “Comet Sighted” actually means something
  • Radio Saved the Video Game: Citizens can go Radio Ga-Ga with a new broadcast network, helping to rapidly spread evacuation warnings and emergency alerts – or simply relax to new in-game music stations
  • An Objectively Good Feature: Scenario Mode allows players to design custom game objectives, including custom starting cities, win conditions, time limits, and more – and share scenarios to Steam Workshop
    Chirpocalypse Now: Heck yeah, new hats for Chirper




I wonder if meltdowns might happen if you have the nuclear power station built as I most commonly do to in powering my cities?


In any case it will seem I will be able to test the City’s resilience soon enough.


In the meantime the latest from Layton City:


We have the roll out of the trams and the opening of a new subway line.

Also come and get your piece of real estate in Onehunga where houses go for $400,000 and apartments for $250,000!


The Layton City Cycle Super Highway #CitiesSkylines

Biking is king in Layton City


One thing I am trying with Layton City is to make the city an 8-80 City. That is a city that is safe to navigate by both eight and eighty year old citizens as well as amenities suited for them. That is if your city is safe and enjoyable for young and old then it is a safe and enjoyable city for ALL citizens.

Using the Rush Hour, Network Extensions and various public transport mods I am able to tap into things like

  • Cycle Boulevards
  • Pedestrian Roads
  • Lane ways (part of Snowfall)
  • Individual line control for the mass transit lines


In this case I was more focusing on the first three listed above as the urban expansion was inside the existing developed Districts (meaning expanding within a district area rather than expanding over and creating a new district and having to fine tune the transit lines). With the expansion within Garnet Hills and Beech District I focused more on the active transport modes.

This meant the expansion of the Layton City Cycle Super Highway that spans from the City Centre all the way down to Foggy Heights where the City was founded. The cycle super highway allows cyclists to bike on mostly grade separated infrastructure through the eastern flank of the city. Through time other cycle super highways will be built as the City expands westwards.

At the same time while using lane ways for non arterial roads within urban areas I am also using the pedestrian road more as well. The pedestrian road is the same as a lane-way but no cars are allowed on it (service vehicles may travel on them however) allowing for different dynamics in both low and high density areas.  The pedestrian roads basically extend the front yard of a residential home or trading area of a commercial facility.

The three types of active transport friendly infrastructure modes:


The time I took the collection of pictures it was a Saturday in the game so a lot of people about with it being the weekend. The cycle super highway was especially busy through the length of the route as people join and leave it as they move about the City.

I also “travelled” by bike along the super highway and the trip would be very enjoyable if translated into real life. The Layton Cycle Super Highway runs through or near various bus lines with feeder cycle lanes or boulevards connecting from the super highway to the subway or heavy rail system. So if I were to wager you wouldn’t need a car to get around most of Layton City. Even the parts of the industrial areas are serviced by busses widening the net unlike Auckland for the most part.


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The World’s Most Liveable City? I think that belongs to Layton City rather than Auckland given the ease to move around the Layton City by mass or active transit modes.


Layton City: A Personalised Walk Through

From the citizens’s point of view


If you have the Free Camera mods for Cities Skylines you are able to drop down to citizen level and either walk around from the view-point of a person or follow any vehicle whether on land, sea or in the air. The great thing about this is along with the Screenshots button (F12) you get to see your city down at a personalised level. At the same time if you click on individual citizens or tourists they tell you their happiness and where they are going. This can allow fine tuning while enjoying the City as a person would see it rather than how most see it at 40,000ft.


Below is some citizen level and follow the bus shots going around Layton City. For full resolution right-click the individual picture slide and open in a new tab.

For the start of the mass transit roll out see:Layton City: Rolling out the Mass Transit Network


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Next up will be the start of establishing the main City Centre.


Layton City: Rolling out the Mass Transit Network

An 8-80 City needs mass transit


With the foundations now laid down for Layton City the expansion begins towards a large-scale city. Yesterday the City went over 10,000 residents which signals time to start investing in the mass transit system.

With Cities Skylines you have the mass transit options of:

  • Bus with bus stations
  • Trams
  • Heavy Rail passenger
  • Subway
  • Taxis
  • Ferries (if the Ferry mod is installed)
  • Cycling lanes and cycle ways for active transport

I also have some mass transit improvement mods that allow me to better fine tune the mass transit systems (including vehicles to a line and even the fares), network extension pieces to build bus-ways, and transit hubs that have rail, subway and bus all together. For ‘park and ride’ I downloaded some parking buildings that combined with the Rush Hour mod allow people to actually drive up, park and catch mass transit (the game allows I believe up to two mode transfers).


With all this in mind a challenge automatically presents itself for a city a young as Layton City, future-proofing to allow expansion of the network. And by future-proofing I do not mean an NZTA or Auckland Transport version where they build a duplicate Mangere motorway bridge that was future-proofed to carry heavy rail to allow the airport line. Catch is their version of future-proofing was to allow a single track and the train to travel at 25km/h meaning an entire new bridge would need to be built (hence why via Onehunga for Airport rail is no longer viable).

My version of future proofing includes the Manukau Objective (leaving aside large areas of blank land for future transit (something that has worked to Manukau’s advantage)) and the Future Objective (building the infrastructure ahead of time but deactivating it until ready). This means you might see large plots of land in an existing urban area blank or stations in “inactive” mode as I follow both objectives in laying out the transit network. It means unlike Auckland yes I do have surplus infrastructure but it also means I am not playing catch up and doing expensive retrofitting like Auckland. The only time this might happen is when I lay down subway stations but the land size for that is very small.


The start of the mass transit system


As I noted in Layton City – Starting Out #CitiesSkylines Layton City will be only my second city with heavy rail used as passenger rail. Trams and subways will be still used but I am trying to replicate a bit of Auckland through using heavy rail connecting the suburbs to the dual city centres that will be established later on.

The suburban metro rail stations are currently deactivated (meaning they are built but not in operation) allowing me to place the transit network down ahead of time and bring it online as needed. I rather do this at a smaller upkeep cost than go through expensive retrofitting on already developed land where demolition of buildings is needed.

Following the Transit Orientated Development method the area around the transit hubs will often be high density with lower densities further out. The extensive use of cycle paths and cycle boulevards expands the reach of the transit hubs while allowing localised riding in place of the car as well.


All remembering as I try to simulate an 8-80 City where Layton City is both navigable and safe for both eight and eighty year old citizens.


A cycle boulevard with housing nearby
A cycle boulevard with housing nearby


Layton City – Starting Out #CitiesSkylines

Introducing my current project


Layton City is my fifth city in Cities Skylines since I got the game two years ago. Layton City is also unique as it will be only my second city (Solaria was the first) that will run heavy rail for passenger commuting services (the game has limitations with heavy passenger rail compared to subways and light rail trams).

I founded Layton City earlier in June using a custom map rather than one of the default maps provided in-game. This map uses the Temperate climate base (so no snow) while being mostly flat and surrounded by water on three sides. It is also a resource rich city with oil, forest, ore and fertile land available for your industries. Layton City also has two sea and air routes available making port connections easier across the city.


Mods are used to enhance game play. The mods include:

  • Rush Hour to simulate 24 hour, 7 day game cycles that allow rush hour commutes, random events, and lunch time or weekend shopping
  • Improvements to the mass transit system allowing me to control individual routes
  • Network Extensions to give more roading options like 2-lane highways, bus ways and dedicated bus lanes
  • Paint tools to plant urban forests
  • Rainfall mod that simulates storms and flooding (so you need a storm water system)
  • Traffic managers to control individual lanes, speed limits and signalised intersections

So the game gets pretty close to being realistic as it can with the limitations of your standard PC and laptops.


Introducing Layton City from founding to its current form as of 16 July, 2016 where I started laying out the bus routes and inter city services by rail. While in a slide show you can right-click and individual image and open it to full resolution (often 1920 x 1080).

Layton City is designed to be a Vision Zero, 8-80 City


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