The Way-less Travel in #CitiesSkylines

Placing the final road link


Wet weather means Cities Skylines time and some serious time at that. Yesterday I worked on two major projects for Layton City as it continues to grow.

First was to connect a main intra-Layton City Highways intersection up to the main inter-city highway at the western edge of the city (as currently the only connection is at the southern end). Second was to finish laying down the zones in Onehunga so that it could provide residential support to the City Centre and Downtown districts.


For the highway connection rather than doing the standard 6-lane motorway that would run across blank land I decided to use the 2-lane “National Highway” option which is a cheaper alternative (and still allows speeds of 100km/h). When Layton City expands westwards the 2-lane highway will be expanded into the full 6-lane motorway standard.


And the pictures (yes it decided to rain halfway through the drive through, rain that would trigger floods (see next post):

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Heavy Rail Moving the Cims #CitiesSkylines

Heavy rail system delivers the goods


When Cities Skylines first came out the heavy rail system was more optimised for moving freight or inter-city passengers rather than commuters. Commuters were best to use the busses or subway system if they wished to use transit to get around..

With After Dark and Snowfall DLC’s as well as a few transport mods to sharpen up game play heavy rail has become the favoured choice in moving the most amount of commuters over long distances across a Cities Skylines map.

Sound familiar?

I have blogged at Talking Southern Auckland how a transit system has a hierarchy for people moving efficiency:

  • Short distances and feeders: bus
  • Medium distances: Light Rail (and subway)
  • Long Distances most often regional or high-capacity short distance shuttling: Heavy Rail


The same principle applies to Cities Skylines as well although a subway line can span the same distance as a heavy rail line. It is that the subway stations are at much shorter gaps between each one compared to a heavy rail station. Also subways being underground save space in high density areas like a City Centre so optimally the surface heavy rail system brings the passengers to the outskirts of the City Centre from the region while the subway moves people around the City Centre free of road conflicts busses or light rail would otherwise face.


Developing the City Centre and heavy rail

Layton City already had a fledgling heavy rail system with two commuter lines and an inter-city line. With the development of the City Centre, Downtown and, the Airport District is the heavy rail system coming into its own.


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The heavy rail system works through moving people between hubs or rather Centres. Where there is a station often that station will be alongside other transit nodes such as bus stations, subway stations, tram stops and from time to time parking buildings. The urban development around what is effectively a transport interchange is often high density with lower density developments as you get further out (unless it is a cluster like the City Centre, Newmarket, Downtown corridor or a minor secondary city centre like well Manukau).

So the heavy rail system moves people between the Centres in a rapid fashion unlike the other modes except for maybe the subway system.

If you are wondering about cost the passenger rail system generally breaks even in cost. However, the wider system does post a loss on nominal monetary value. But with ~6,000 cars and several hundred trucks off the road (the City is 100,000 in population) the benefits arrive in more than simple monetary terms.

As for the City Centre that is now developing with the central station and Civic Square all set to go. Now it to lay down the zones, the bus and tram stops and we are away with the heart of Layton City.


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!


Layton City Flooded #CitiesSkylines

City suffers from first major flood


If you have the Rainfall Mod for Cities Skylines what was just cosmetic rain for visual effects now gives real consequences depending how much falls into your City.

This means you have to build a storm water system so that the rain can drain away from your city unless you want the water pooling up after every shower. So you have your inlets for the surface water which drains into the pipes. From there it has to be disposed through one of three options:

  1. Detention Basins (soak holes that allow the rain to soak into the ground)
  2. Gravity outlets (speaks for itself when discharging water in waterways)
  3. Storm pumps (electric-powered pumps that discharge water into waterways meaning gravity is not an issue proving you have power)


I run a two tiered drainage system where storm water is first collected via the inlets into the detention basins scattered throughout the City. Once the basins hit 80% full the storm pumps kick in forcing water out and into the waterways either being a river, harbour or the canal system built-in Layton City.


The Rainfall Mod is set to the south-west Pacific which means it mimics Auckland’s weather. Providing the rain intensity does not go above 4.0mm/hour Layton City’s storm water system handles the rain events very well with localised pooling in a few dips and troughs.

However, a 1-in-100 rain event finally happened where the rain intensity hit 4.6mm/hour. In other words the game threw cats, dogs, monkeys and several kitchen sinks worth of rain in a very short time. For the first time we had city-wide flooding as well as the canal system running in flood mode.


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The white flood bubbles mean the area is flooding. This always happens in any rain event and will not disrupt the City. It is when you get the red flood bubble that the area is flooded and services become disrupted.

As I said earlier the system is designed to handle intensities of up to 4.0mm/h without overwhelming the inlets (and not all the pumps going into operation). But in this storm event pictured above we had hit 4.6mm/hour for three of the eight hours the storm occurred.



By the end of the third hour of the most intense rainfall all the storm water pumps were actively discharging the water into the canals and the river. And while the river coped the canal for the first time breached its walls (with all those pumps discharging water into it) and had started running up the flood walls either side. The flood waters reached up about 20% of the wall height so there was still capacity spare through the emergency flood systems.

As for the City around 33% of the City was under the red flood bubbles meaning the areas were under water disrupting services and forcing evacuation (citizens abandon the building). Simply put the inlets could not cope with the intensity of rain with 2,500 people “evacuated” out the City. Once the storm had settled back down it took another two hours for the flood waters to clear and the canals to settle (as you need the pumps to stop discharging). The evacuees came back and everything returned to normal not long after all.


In the end it was a very sobering exercise watching the City struggle with a 1 in 100 year storm event. Some more inlets will need to be built as well as a few more detention basins to help handle the flows. However, the emergency systems worked well with the canal system handling the floodwaters within expectations. Because if the canals had failed more than 33% of the City would have been a lake!


Beech District, Opening the Metro Rail System #CitiesSkylines

Beech District introduces heavy rail


Beech District while another expansion to the quilt-work that is the Layton City also marks a more historic occasion with the heavy rail metro network now operational. Right now it is only a shuttle between four stations but when completed the heavy rail network would incorporate several metro lines, an inter-city line and the cargo lines through out the City.

I have opted to undertake heavy metro rail for only the second time since I got Cities Skylines to give a more realistic feel to Layton City. Subways and light rail will still be used as I plan to create several multi-modal hubs like the one in the planned main City Centre.

City Centre Transport Centre
City Centre Transport Hub


Typically a heavy rail station will be a train/bus interchange to start with light rail being added later on.

Four track bus and train interchange
Four track bus and train interchange


Metro trains
Metro trains


Speaking of which I had to rip up the area around an inter-city rail station as I seriously underestimated the rail to bus patronage that would occur. Long story short the 2-lane road and its 4-lane upgrade were unable to cope with the volume of busses, taxis and cars caused by one of the two operating intercity rail stations in Layton City. It means busses were late and people getting frustrated waiting for busses that dropped off the system entirely (sound familiar).

Uh oh
Uh oh


As a result the road was converted to a two lane one way system and a bus station built south of the shot to service the two bus routes that go through there. It has worked with busses and taxis no longer held up and passengers able to transfer between modes quickly. I’ll have to be careful next time when opening the next intercity station.


One last thing before the slide show, I have start creating a network of dedicated cycle-ways through Layton City as the City expands. It wont be one continuous bike highway but rather areas of cycle boulevards connecting different districts and transit hubs up. You can see one such cycle-boulevard here:





It wont be long before the urban development follows the rail line up to the Layton City Centre Transport Hub and work starts on the main City Centre itself.


Layton City as of 24 July, 2016


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Taking the Bus Around Layton City #CitiesSkylines

Following a route


One thing I like to do in Cities Skylines is catch public transport and “take a tour” around the city as the bus, train or tram follows its route. Taking the tour also allows me to see any bottlenecks (discovered a big one yesterday that meant some time redoing a station) as well as what passengers get to enjoy you would not otherwise driving in the car.


In this post we follow a bus around a new route that was established last week as Layton City continues to sprawl. In the following post we take a further look at the latest develop called Beech District.


Following that bus (plus some scenery):

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To enlarge the picture to full resolution right-click the individual picture and open in a new tab.


The city and its landscape is quite picturesque especially when looking from an elevated shot. Thus I make sure when laying down new urban development that the City remains green through a network of formal parks and urban forests/parkland. As for the canals they are there in this case for drainage rather than tourist appeal. I have the Rainfall mod installed which means the rain and storm elements built into Cities Skylines move from pure aesthetics to being a real pain in the ass every time the rain gauge goes above 15mm/hour (aka the kitchen sink). The Rainfall mod means I have had to build a storm water system and that water collected has to go somewhere. It can either go into Detention Basins (soak holes) to which the water soaks into the earth or the pumps that pump the water along (this case I use the electric not the gravity versions) and dump it into canals that subsequently into the sea or river.

So far the Detention Basins have held up with only two of the twelve pumps having ever operated when the City experienced 25mm/h. The canals never breached their banks.


Also and as noted in the previous post I am using heavy rail for passenger services. This is only my second city to have ever had heavy rail for both passenger and freight. In my next post we see how this goes with Rail Metro Line #1 in operation.




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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