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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To 2018 with Ben’s #CitiesSkylines

Even San Solaria marks New Years

 

New Years Eve was a quiet one in real life but was a noisy affair in San Solaria City. Coincidentally when I loaded the game up on New Years Eve it was also Sunday going over to Monday in the game as well. So why not mark it as the New Year celebrations for my largest city!

 

Happy New Year via Cities Skylines:

 

 

It has been a busy year for the City with the Greens Cities DLC coming out and San Solaria doing its part going green.

100% of its power comes from emissions free sources consisting of: nuclear, hydro, wind and wave power. Quite impressive really.

 

 

So here is to what is going to be an extremely busy year in San Solaria (and my new city San Layton City)!

 

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From the BIG DIG to New Urban Spaces. Stitching Up Two Urban Areas #CitiesSkylines

Part Two – reconnect the urban areas

 

A recap from Part One – Bury the Motorway:

Motorways, great for moving cars and trucks but boy do they take up land and create large severance in the urban form. In San Solaria City the Great Solarian Coastal Motorway was a 6-lane highway that ran east-west along the Solarian Coast connecting the city up to the wider region.

The highway was already there when I built San Solaria however, the motorway still severed the main urban area from the City Centre and Downtown.

The elevated Metro line (Light Rail) also forms a severance and will be dealt with as well as the urban regeneration continues.

But as you can see the Great Solarian Coastal Motorway is rather not that great when contributing to Solaria’s urban form?

Solution?

BURY THE MOTORWAY

 

Now for Part Two

Reconnecting the Urban Areas

First things first was to bury the elevated Metro line that also formed a severance to the urban form:

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As a result of placing the Metro line underground I was able also build three new subway stations that would allow the catchment of the respective Lines to expand. As for the foot and cycle bridges they are remaining up for the moment until the new cycle boulevards are built.

 

Next up is removing the old underpasses and connecting up the two formerly severed urban areas with new roads:

 

And now for the brand new boulevard running down what was the former surface motorway. I chose the new 4-lane boulevard that comes with tram tracks, parking and grade separated cycle lanes as not only I am planning to build a new tram line but also lots of trees, street furniture and of course new cycling facilities.

 

I had to alter the west end motorway ramps that were taking excessive amounts of space. At the same time on the eastern end I started laying down the new roads for the new urban developments:

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Now for the fun – building!

In go the side roads, civic infrastructure and parks:

 

In this case I used the alternative education facilities that came with the Greens Cities DLC expansion rather than the conventional schools from the normal game. By alternative I mean: Community School, Institute of Creative Arts, and Institute of Technology rather than Primary and High Schools, and a standard university.

And yes I also built a new set of Government Offices (and Central Park) >_<

 

The Result of the initial urban regeneration after burying the motorway?

Have a look below. Part Three – ‘Was there ever a motorway here’ will showcase the fully regenerated urban area reconnecting the old two urban areas once severed by the motorway.

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Lessons for Auckland?

Auckland has plenty of excessively wide roads that can be humanised and two motorways that can be “buried” by placing parks above them. Grafton Gully is one and State Highway 20 between the Great South Road and Lambie Drive bridges is another.

No it is never a cheap exercise reconnecting severed urban areas whether in real life or Cities Skylines life. But the investment is most definitely worth it when urban areas are reconnected and the people get to enjoy both new urban spaces from the reconnected urban form.

Part Three showcasing the fully regenerated urbanscape after burying the motorway will have lessons Auckland and other urban areas can learn. I know for sure the residents of San Solarian City are loving the new urban area so much so there is a spike in new Residential demand for the City (word of mouth works)!

 

More soon

 

A Day on Bus Route 17 in #CitiesSkylines

Word from a bus driver in San Solarian City

 

Transit and active cycling play a big role in my Cities Skyline cities whether it be Layton City or San Solarian City. We often see the exploits of the transportation system as it moves people and goods around. But what is it like on the ground?

Today we here from the bus driver of Route 17 who took the afternoon-evening run on San Solarian’s biggest bus in the fleet – the 135 seater bendy bus.

 

 

Interviewer: so what is it like on Route 17?

Driver: First the route. Route 17 runs from Glade Hills Transport Interchange to Cozy Clifftops via the new Hill Park development. Unlike the older bus routes, Route 17 runs through the fringe of the City.

Interviewer: So what kind of people do you get on the route?

Driver: Route 17 serves mainly low density residential areas with their low density commercial local centres. In places there is high density residential apartments but otherwise the route mainly serves families and seniors rather than professionals and university students.

Interviewer: So….

Driver: Schools, especially high schools. This is where the fun begins especially on the afternoon run with the Ministry of Education having a flexi-timetable policy (no fixed timetable as schools are open 7am – 6pm). Route 17 has two high schools on its route serving some 2400 students. Come afternoon it gets rather “comfortable” even on my big bendy bus. The Hill Park West Bus Station is pretty chocker with students in the afternoon and it can take about ten busses to clear all the students out from the high schools (the rest walk or cycle).

Interviewer: How do we fix the crowding issue?

Driver: The San Solarian City Council is busy building a new metro subway line from the City Centre out to the western fringes of the City. With that and a new cross town route in the plans the crowding pressures should relieve themselves on Route 17.

Driver: Route 17 is also known as the Wow route. Wow as in the views from the cliff tops over looking the ocean as you traverse through Cozy Clifftops back down to Hill Park.

Interviewer: Would you change anything?

Driver: Apart from speeding up the construction of the new Metro line? No, the Route is a pretty sweet one and the kids are often well behaved. Route 17 is like taking a scenic drive through the City unlike some of the other routes that go through the core of the hustle and bustle of the City.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time

Driver: You are welcome. Don’t forget to tag off as you leave the bus.

 

Following around busses and trains reveals interesting sights not seen at bird’s eye level in Cities Skylines. It is often nice just mingling with the people taking timeout from City building and transport management in a booming city.

We also managed to get some pictures from Route 17 on its run. Have a look below:

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Cities Skylines to Officially Introduce Mass Transit

Oh for the chaos ahead

 

While Cities Skylines has a basic transit system currently to get maximum use from it you need quite a few mods like Network Extensions, Rush Hour and Transport Manager added alongside the base game.

However, never fear (err or might) Paradox are to release a new DLC called Mass Transit. Yep if you have already buggered up your cities with traffic chaos then Mass Transit with either fix it or make it even worse. If trying to retrofit into an existing city well then welcome to Auckland’s mess in trying to retrofit decent transit into a large urban area.

 

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From Paradox Interative :

New Expansion for Cities: Skylines Majors in Commuter Science

“Mass Transit” Adds Monorails, Ferries, Cable Cars, and Blimps to City-Management Game

Published: February 28, 2017 10:28:42 AM CET

STOCKHOLM – Feb. 28, 2017 — Paradox Interactive, a publisher of games that play fare, today announced a new expansion coming soon for Cities: Skylines, the award-winning city-builder from Colossal Order. The expansion, titled “Mass Transit,” will bring new forms of transportation to the PC game, allowing mayor-players to offer in-game citizens new ways to get across town by land, sea, and air. With new transit service buildings, mass transit hubs where lines can exchange passengers, new scenarios, new landmarks, and new road types, Mass Transit will provide veteran players of Cities: Skylines with more choices and options to personalize their cities than ever before.

……

Per usual, the new expansion will arrive together with a free update to the base game upon release. This free update adds mod-inspired features to traffic management, such as an extended public transport budget, emergency vehicle overtaking and more road features. The patch will also include the much-requested ability to name roads.

……..

 

Oh what fun will be waiting when this expansion comes out

 

Moving to Clean Energy in Layton City #CitiesSkylines

63% comes from clean sources

 

Power is a serious business for a large city such as Layton City. Placement of power plants also matters too as the tsunami saga showed when the City Centre was “cleaned” but the power plants were missed. In Layton City nearly two-thirds of its power is produced by non-Green House Gas emitting power plants with nuclear taking the lead.

Unfortunately a quirk in the game means you need incinerators for rubbish as your landfills do fill up and need to be emptied some how. However, and rather fortunately the main Layton City recycling plant recycles about 50% of the City’s trash lessening the need for incinerators. That said those incinerators still produce 17% of the City’s power so at least not all is lost.

 

Below is a pie chart of Layton City’s power production:

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As you can see the City’s four nuclear reactors produce 56% or some 1.92GW/h of total power with gas next in at 20%. The topography of Layton City rules out hydro but a large ocean means I can increase off-shore wind production. There is plenty of capacity in the incinerators so no new ones will be built for a long time even on current growth projections.

 

However, the demand load is at 90% of total power production so I will be needing a new power plant to be built soon. The question is what. I am most likely to build a new nuclear power station in the inland area of the City away from the Tsunami prone City Centre. While the new nuke plant would take its share to about 65% (meaning clean energy goes to 73% total) gas still forms a large part of energy production. Location of the gas plant is also a factor as it is next door to the energy intensive ore production complex decommissioning the power plant is not straight forward even replacing it with nuclear (becomes expensive to commission two plants back to back). That said the plant will be eventually replaced.

 

Heating wise Layton City is a temperate climate like Auckland so it can get cold at night. Heating using electricity would tax the power plants that are already at 90% as well as being straight inefficient. So I use a central heating system that covers about 60% of the City (still need to retrofit the historic parts) that draws on geothermal energy – aka natural steam.

Currently 640MW/H of electricity production is saved through the geothermal heating system (load is at 85% capacity) when it gets nippy at night. I prefer using geothermal over oil boilers for both cost and emissions (or lack thereof). Eventually I will get around to retrofitting the historic districts with central heating.

 

Here are some pictures of power and heat production in Layton City

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As for cutting emissions down further? Time to improve the transit system.

 

Christmas Sucks Thanks to Tornado #CitiesSkylines

No major damage and minimal lives lost

 

Well Christmas for Layton City got a tad wet and windy after a freak storm rolled through the City causing mass flooding and even a tornado.

 

The Imperial Management of Emergencies Agency reported that a EF1 tornado had touched down south of Onehunga and proceeded west through open country before dissipating near Layton City International Airport. However, the severe rains accompanying the tornado had caused mass flooding in the east with the storm water systems unable to cope.

Weather Observation analyst Bill Duncan said storms were not uncommon in Layton City as the Summer rolled on with a few producing a few tornadoes usually out to sea (Waterspouts). Having one touch down on land is unusual however, the Civil Defence system by IMEA worked as it was meant to. Of course the flooding in the east will need to be dealt with after the Foggy Heights Canal again breached its walls causing flooding in Evergreen Heights and Orchard Square.

Layton City Department of Transport reported that minimal damage to infrastructure was reported with a rail line and section of State Highway 20 damaged by the tornado but quickly repaired.

 

Citizens are hoping the rest of the Summer holidays are not as intense as the Christmas Day tornado. I think we can all count ourselves lucky the sucker missed the airport by mere metres.

 

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DISASTER! Layton City Surfs Two Tsunamis #CitiesSkylines

Disaster response management worked

Citizens are slow

 

Okay first lesson with the Tsunami, ONLY HIT THE BUTTON ONCE! The cool down timer and the arrival of the wave does take a long time as in towards six hours of game time being simulated. I accidentally hit the button twice and got a double tsunami which in real life does happen depending on the quake and amount of wave trains it generates.

 

Early Warning System works

As part of the IMEA (Imperial Management of Emergencies Agency) planning I had laid out a network of Tsunami buoys to detect any waves while deploying radio masts City-wide to give out early warning alerts.

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A tsunami buoy

 

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A large radio mast

 

Sure enough while I was checking out the City Centre as it was a weekend afternoon meaning LOTS of shoppers and tourists the buoys picked up a wave (well two) and the radio masts started sending out the alerts.

 

 

So I trigger the evacuation systems and you hear the wailing of sirens across the City alerting people to head to the bunkers – apparently.

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People really didn’t start moving until the wave was beginning to break over the sea walls THEN people started moving. Remember I have capacity for 172,000 in a city of 242,000!

 

The double wave started its trip through the City Centre, Downtown, Airport and Newmarket before heading up one of the rivers meeting the wave from a second entrance.

The result? Surf’s up:

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Included is the disaster response which was extremely prompt with the choppers and later the trucks when the water cleared.

 

How far would the Tsunami go?

What I was interested to see and equally afraid of was how far would the wave travel up an estuary on one side and the west coast on the other. The estuary is a threat as it leads to the main industrial complex and both nuclear power stations that power the City. The western coast that feeds into another estuary leads to the main airport and to Manukau City Centre and its industrial complex.

The western coast got hammered and it wasnt until the wave met some canal walls that were part of the storm water drainage system did the wave’s reach begin to dissipate. As for the estuary the wave travelled up the waterway causing moderate flooding along the shore. The wave did manage to travel far enough upstream to have the wave reach one of the nuclear plants but only cause very minor flooding. The wave totally faded out before reaching the port while also dissipating well before it could hit Manukau.

 

 

The western side

 

The aftermath?

120,000 people were in the bunkers while 22,000 out of 242,000 were killed in the double Tsunami (9% loss). The City Centre and Downtown were hit but Newmarket which houses the leisure district was effectively wiped out.

The IMEA response teams were prompt and I was able to release the Citizens from the bunkers a short while later.

Infrastructure was hit with subway stations, power transmission, parks, emergency services and schools taken out but thanks to IMEA being fast restoration of those services was prompt.

 

The Rebuild

By morning the damage could be very easily seen. Newmarket looked like it had a bomb go through it while the City Centre and Downtown also took some damage mainly to infrastructure. The IMEA response units had been through all the infrastructure facilities meaning I could rebuild them very quickly. While with the urban development side about 85% had been seen too and could start rebuilding.

Priority was to get the crematoriums, fire stations and stations back open to avoid a secondary disaster and get the flow of goods and people moving fast.

Once they were built I went back to get everything else.

 

Resilience

There were several factors that helped Layton City through a double Tsunami with 9% loss of lives. Yes we had the buoys, masts, bunkers and IMEA but things like the storm water infrastructure was able to pump out the flood waters very fast meaning water was not lingering.

The main industrial complex was never touched as wasn’t one of the nuclear power stations (the other was but very minor flooding that did not cause the reactors to SCRAM). The main water and sewer pumps were also not affected either so the emergency tanks were not needed this time around.

So with main power and water still available the City was able to function (although limited until the infrastructure was fixed) and the industrial complex providing materials for the rebuild.

Busses and heavy rail proved to be the most resilient in the disaster. Once the waves have swept through the busses began operating again straight away with freight and passenger trains not far behind. The subways and tram lines did need extensive rebuilds before they were operational again.

But it shows the resilience in transit modes especially after a disaster. The busses and trains were able to move thousands of evacuated people back home (unless their home was destroyed and a night in the bunkers) while freight trains moved goods and materials to their cargo hubs as part of the rebuild effort.

 

 

 

Already people are moving back and homes and businesses will be rebuilt. Layton City did extremely well with the disaster and its subsequent response. But heck citizens were slow to the bunkers. Next time let’s try to get a few more people there.