Introducing the Ben’s #CitiesSkylines Stream. Follow Me as I use the Urban Simulator as a Communication Tool

Weekly Streams

The initial tests have been done and the scripts are being written to keep the streams into 10 minute portions (for now). It is time to get the weekly Ben’s Cities(Skylines) Stream on the road (so to say) and out the door ready to be served every Monday.

The Ben’s Cities(Skylines) Stream

These streams will be starting off as short often two part streams commentating on all things urban simulation and urban geography using Cities Skylines as communication tool. From urban planning to urban development and onward to First Person mode (what the citizen sees) and Lane Mathematics this will both be causal but also formal as the game is used for downtime and urban geographic purposes.

Today I give a very brief overview of the game, the layout and the mods I use. From next Monday I will do both urban development and drop down to first person view so you see the world from a Cim’s perspective. At the moment both Manukau, and Grand Manukau/Layton Cities will be used in the streams. One is an older mature city the other one I recently started.

As always don’t forget to subscribe, like, share and leave a comment below. \

In the meantime: Drive Safe!

BE AFRAID: First #CitiesSkylines Recorded Stream with Commentary

First commentated video on my Cities Skylines creations

Four years after the game came out I finally recorded and commentated one of my Cities Skylines creations.

I have two cities in play at the moment; Manukau, and Grand Manukau/Layton Cities. Today’s recording was of Manukau as it is the larger and older city at 155,000 however, Grand Manukau/Layton Cities (5,500) will be recorded as well as every city I have different game plays (apart from my core rule of Urban Islands and Twin Cores).

This two part recording is a test and a few more tests will be done before I settle into recording style. Note: I will not be live streaming on YouTube or Twitch as of yet.

First Commentary Stream of Cities Skylines – Manukau

Part 2 (I am restricted to 10 minute streams which is not a bad thing as it keeps me on the short and narrow otherwise you get 20mins of me pondering what should go where (just like any city).

Muhahahah nuclear farms.

I will try and record every Sunday New Zealand Time (currently GMT+13) and upload for Monday. Content will include both First Person mode as I follow Cims and traffic around as well as urban planning and city building.

Comments can be left below – just remember still testing as I get use to the concepts.

Operation Grafton Gully: #CitiesSkylines to Mimick Highway Replacement in Manukau

Highway to Boulevard – reconnecting two sections of the City

In real life Auckland there is a lot of fanfare over the City Centre Master Plan MK2 which includes replacing the motorway (State Highway 16) in Grafton Gully with a tree lined boulevard.

While that particular timeframe is of at least two decades before the above happens in my Cities Skylines city of Manukau I do not have that issue – for I am well – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine:

Grandeur of power aside what I can do is use the game to simulate such a motorway-to-boulevard which is present in Manukau.

The Motorway that severs the City Centre from the University

As of yesterday (when I wrote this post) a six-lane motorway ran between Manukau’s University district on one side and Papakura/City Centre on the other. To be fair the motorway was there before the urban development as a was part of the inter-city motorway system that was there before the City.

But as Manukau continued to grow the urban area from the Papakura side of the motorway jumped the motorway as the University and airport were built. With new motorway subsequently built that went around the urban area and connecting back to the inter-city highway system on the other side of the river the old motorway became redundant (apart from flooding the area with cars).

This is how the urban area was pre-motorway replacement:

Time to replace the motorway

To replicated the Grafton Gully replacement I had to replace a six lane motorway that had over-bridges and intersections with a boulevard and supporting urban development. Remember the University of Manukau is on one side and Papakura is on the other. Further down there was Manukau Estates and Manukau Technology Park that were both linked by monorail.

Let’s take a look at the motorway due for replacement:

Not very nice is it?

Some more pictures pre replacement:

The Boluevard

In place of the motorway I replaced it with a tree lined (California Redwoods) 6-lane boulevard. The reason why it is still 6-lanes (at 60km/h) is two fold:

  1. The University motorway interchange is not open (thus university and airport traffic still need to use the boulevard to access both via Manukau Airport Avenue)
  2. Two of those six lanes will become bus lanes when I open up the new Papakura Heights development northern side of the motorway. The speed limit will be then reduced to 50km/h. Those bus lanes will happen regardless of the University interchange

To compensate for the fact the boluevard is still funnelling traffic at speed there will be no urban development either side of it. Instead I have put separate cycling boulevards either side running in parallel and they will house the new urban developments.

Let’s take a look at the replacement program:

The Boulevard – Estates and Technology Park sector

On the other side of the Manukau/Manukau Airport Avenues Roundabout the motorway continued dividing Manukau Estates and Manukau Technology park before heading over the river to connect with another recently rebuilt interchange (that would lead to replacement of a 6-lane road into a transit way)

There was a 6 lane road here once. Now it is a transit way and cycle way

For this part of the motorway replacement there were two activities carried out:

  1. Extension of the Boulevard
  2. Shrinking the motorway that is left

As this part of the motorway connects the two sides of the river as well as the urban area back to the south bank set of motorways it was decided that shrinking the motorway would be best.

This was the result including a rebuilt interchange:

As a bonus you can see the Manukau Nuclear Power Plant that runs a EPR-1400 reactor. Enough to power 85% of the City under current arrangements. Two 400KV lines and an 800KV line distribute the power to the City (linking up with circuits that come from the Daffodil Oil fired Power Plant, the Taranaki Geothermal Plants, the experimental Ocean Thermal Inversion Plant and the now mothballed Wiri Coal-fired Plant (used before the nuker was opened)).

Stage 1 of Operation Grafton Gully is complete

At the end of this part of the operation what was once an inter-city motorway has now been replaced by a boulevard, a shrunk motorway and a new interchange. And boy does the area look better already as I continue onto Stages 2 and 3 of Operation Grafton Gully.

Stage 2 is already underway with supporting infrastructure going in such as cycle boluevards, walkways and new lane ways for the urban developments:

The new boluevard is open to traffic marking the completion of Stage 1. Stage 2 is the completion of local infrastructure to support the new urban developments as the urban form is stitched back together. Stage 3 will be the micro-detailing work including median barriers, new signs, use of the Move It mod to even the roads out and finally the landscaping.

Operation Grafton Gully: simulating the restoration of the urban area by replacing a motorway with a boulevard. How did it go? That is up next!

Oh the Boulevard does not have a name yet either. Suggestions in the comments below.

The Manukau #CitiesSkylines Rapid Transit Network

Getting around the City congestion free

Time to put the money where my mouth is and develop my own Rapid Transit Network for Manukau in Cities Skylines.

As of this post I have 13 Rapid Transit Lines, two ferries and a high capacity shuttle bus that are the backbone of the transit system in Auckland (there are also the feeder and regular buses as well). The Rapid Transit Network:

  • One Monorail line
  • Two heavy rail lines
  • One high capacity shuttle bus
  • Three Metro lines
  • Seven Tram lines
Manukau Transit Network

As for the RTN itself (note: ferries not included)

Manukau Rapid Transit Network

As for the full network:

Full Manukau Transit Network

In most cases you can uses the buses and Rapid Transit Network to get around the City car free. There is also a growing cycling network as well if Active Transport is on the go for you!

With RTN frequencies between every 3-10 minutes all day and the buses ranging from every 5-20 mins all day what better time to leave the car to get around Manukau.

Manukau and the University of Manukau. A City Grows Up. Also Rocket Lab?

Fees Free start attracting students, also a school bus

The University of Manukau based in the district called Manukau University Town has been operational for half an academic year and I must say is performing well. The University can house 5,000 students but given it has only been open for six months (and I had to disable the Hadron Collider (cheat for education)) having 315 students is a good start.

The University is fees free and has a sports team as well (swimming). Given the University was built around Manukau University Town and University Estates (basically student accommodation using the King Leno University content pack) I would say things are going well.

So let’s take a look at both districts on a school bus:

Looking at how Manukau looks in general at sundown and night from the University:

Finally it seems Manukau is indeed on the up – firing rockets:

Up next: the Rapid Transit Network!

FEE FREE UNIVERSITY STUDY: #CitiesSkylines Campus DLC: A First Look with the University of Manukau

How does it rate?

So how does the Campus DLC for Cities Skylines rate?

TL:DR version: I give it a B+

Right now that those with extremely short attention spans are satisfied I’ll move to the long version of what I think of the Campus DLC for Cities Skylines.

Cities Skylines Campus DLC and the Campus Content Pack by King Leno came out around 36 hours ago as of this post (so overnight in New Zealand time). This time around I did not have the usual two week wait for Mod’s to catch up as the main two Mod’s that would be impacted by Campus DLC (Real Time and Transport Lines Manager) were either updated very quickly or only had User Interface glitches and are to be updated very soon. So yesterday I fired up the game and load the City of Manukau which earlier in the month I had prepared for the new DLC. See #CitiesSkylines Introduces the big Campus for more there.

Straight away the first bugbear would come up: RAM. This DLC and the new Content Pack are chewing even my 20GB of RAM (so I’ll have to take it to 30GB now) which is very unusual when a new DLC has come out for the game. In the past with previous DLC’s and even Content Packs the usage of memory will increase that is a given but not the large jump seen with the Campus DLC. Paradox and CO have been told to optimise the game and make it able to utilise 64bit systems better, if they want to release more DLC’s then they will need to do this sooner rather than later.

Once Manukau loaded it was straight in to building the University campus (you have three to choose from: University, Trade School and Liberal Arts (simply Arts in the Commonwealth). I would also build an Aquatics Centre for my University sports team as well.

Manukau pre Campus DLC

The above picture shows the land between the Airport, Papakura and Manukau Technology Park in which the University of Manukau will sit. At this point in time there is only one road in and out until I connect up Manukau University Town to the new bypass at the left of the map. Transit-wise there is:

  • One bus station connected to a Monorail Station
  • One heavy rail station connected to another Monorail Station
  • One Metro Station (trains run underground)
  • A Manukau University Town circuit bus
  • Cycle lanes and cycleways

Before I could start building the University I had an 800KV and a 400KV transmission line running through the proposed campus.

Transmission Lines from Nuclear City

Time to bury the 800KV line and reroute slightly the 400KV line:

With the lines either buried or diverted the building of the Campus can now continue (both Lines came from Nuclear City and deliver power to: the Airport, University, Papakura and City Centre, and the Papatoetoe-Tamaki urban area).

Laying down the University

Time to build the University of Manukau starting with the Administration Building then working from there with support buildings, Faculties (Science, Medicine and Law), dormitories and various other structures:

Arts and Engineering Faculties are in separate institutions such as Trade School and the Liberal Arts.

Next up the University Aquatic Centre:

University of Manukau Aquatic Centre

Now for some University policies:


Yep the University of Manukau is entirely FEES FREE with the City of Manukau adopting Universal Education (being paid for with Residential and Commercial Taxes increased 1% each respectively). However, no Free Lunches folks – that one is on you. The University also provides Student Healthcare, will have Visiting Scholars and of course fund Academic Works.

With a bit of tinkering the Aquatic Centre and team is all set up and yes I have not activated the Free Transit on event day. Go pay your flat fare of $2 to catch the train, Metro or Monorail the Centre

Oh did I mention FEES FREE!

Getting the University going:

Once I had completed the University and some surrounding residential and commercial using the Always University City Districts (to best enable the King Leno University Content Pack) time to let it rip:

As Manukau has the previous vanilla universities and the Hadron Collider (which negates the need for schools) operating it will take a while for the new UoManukau to come to full power (as we wait on the new generation of residents to come through).

Once the University has settled in I will look at the Trade School and Liberal Arts Campuses given Manukau is deemed a large mature City game wise.


Apart from the RAM issue and with the addition of the University District mod mentioned earlier the Campus DLC and Content Pack definitely give a bit of spice to your City no matter size or stage of game play.

No doubt debate will rage on Universal Education or Education for Profit (I use Universal Education) and should be plenty of YouTube videos on that one.

I will take Manukau some time to readjust as the effects from the Hadron wear off as Citizens die, new ones are born or move into the City. However, even with Universal Education I can still keep the City running in the Black – with Residential and Commercial Taxes at 10%.

To get best bang for buck from the DLC a new City will be needed and with the beautiful maps that came with the DLC I am sure my Urban Geography skills will be tested again.

Should you go out right away and purchase the DLC and Content pack? If you have nudged over 1,000 game hours as I have then yes? Otherwise wait for the Steam sales.

#CitiesSkylines Introduces the big Campus

Bringing higher education to the City

Paradox and Colossal Order have made the announcement that ‘Campus’ is the next major DLC for the ever popular urban simulator Cities Skylines.

The announcement trailer:

From Colossal Order:

Campus Dev Diary #1: Campus Areas by Colossal Order

Hello there, city-builders! Cities: Skylines – Campus, the latest expansion to the game, was announced on the 9th of May and now it’s time to take a closer look into what features it includes. The previous Dev Diary worked as a quick introduction to the expansion. Check it out, if you haven’t already, and you’ll get a nice overview of what it’s all about!

So, Campus Areas. What’s it all about? Well, it’s about education! A great city needs an equally great and awesome-looking campus to match. The Campus Areas use the same area creating mechanics as Parklife and Industries. You can paint Campus Areas using the Campus Area tool and assign a campus type of your choosing by placing campus buildings inside the area, from campus Administration Buildings to dormitories, study halls, club houses and unique faculties. There are three types of campuses: Trade School, Liberal Arts College and University, each with their own, distinct visual style and unique faculties which provide the city with various bonuses.

For more see: the forums

Manukau prepares for Campus life

With the Campus DLC out rather soon (under two weeks) it means I can easy adapt my current City – Manukau to the new DLC. Rather coincidentally (or not) I already had a large piece of blank land between Papakura/City Centre and the Airport that I was going to use as industry. I think I will use that land for the new Manukau University and the Manukau University Town district.

The land is prime for a University town with the City Centre on one side, airport on the other and the Manukau Technology park next door. I have already prepared the transit connections using heavy rail, metro rail, monorail, and busses while I am setting up the cycling infrastructure.

You can see I am preparing a new 6-lane motorway as well. This will form the new bypass that will connect to a large T-Junction to the right of Nuclear City (first picture) allowing me to either Shrink the existing 6-lane motorway that divides Manukau Estates and Manukau Technology Park or replace it with a tree lined boulevard. Just out of interest I ran the stats last night and for a population of ~130,000 I also had 3,287 parked cars in the City.

One think you might have noticed are the two rather large transmission lines running right through the guts of the proposed university area. One is the big 800KV line that runs from Nuclear City to the Papatoetoe Sub Station (connecting up with a 225/400KV line to the Taranaki Power Plant, and several 35KV lines) while the other is the 400KV line that runs also from Nuclear City to the Papakura and Airport Substations (powering the City Centre/Downtown/Technology Park and Airport areas)

The 800KV line already acts as a severance to Papakura and the City Centre as it runs through them so both the 800 and 400 lines will end up doing the same to the Campus unless I move the Lines. Something to think about as I get ready to but the Manukau University Town in a few weeks time.

As for power production:

  • Total Power Production (Consumption): 1,365MW (1,120MW)
  • From Nuclear City (an EPR design): 956MW
  • From Taranaki Oil Power Plant 200MW
  • From Tamaki Geothermal Booster Stations (80MW)
  • From the various wind farms: 100MW
  • From the incinerators 29MW
  • Offline: Wiri Coal Power Plant with production capacity of 350MW
  • 84% comes from Low Carbon sources
Manukau pre Campus

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!


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 😛

BadPeanut Gives #CitiesSkylines the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I Oblige and Build the Manukau River Bridge

Harbour Bridge edition gives City gravitas

Manukau was missing something as a river city and I could not quite put my finger on it. Ahhhh I know how about an iconic bridge transplanted into the City!

Cue BadPeanut and his Sydney Harbour Bridge design!

It is not exactly the smallest asset at 130MB (as it is made of 34 sub-assets) and dwarfs most other in-game assets as well. However, with two walkways, 2 motorways, and a heavy rail line the Sydney Harbour Bridge does a fantastic job at connecting the two sides of Manukau over the Manukau River.

This is what was here before the new Bridge:

Pretty bland and yes the traffic was beginning to bank up at the Trans-Manukau Link/River Town roundabout.

Time to upgrade stuff:

Yes we have floating cars to indicate where the old bridge and roadways were.

And now to plop the Manukau River Bridge using the Sydney Harbour Bridge asset:

After linking it all up this is what we get:

As with the real-life Sydney Harbour Bridge the asset has two actual motorways on it rather than one. A 6 lane two way motorway (4+2 but I believe this can tidal in real life) or the Bradfield Highway and the 2 lane one way (including a single bus lane) Cahill Expressway make up the roadways while either side is flanked with shared paths and finally heavy rail to take passenger trains on one side.

Given the Trans Manukau Link is an existing highway the layout of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in my example fits perfectly well.

The 2-lane Cahill Expresway effectively services as a mega long off ramp from the Manurewa/Papatoetoe side of the river to the Manukau River Town Roundabout. The 2 lanes of the Bradfield Highway that follow Cahill in parallel continue uninterrupted to existing 4-lane highway of the Trans-Manukau Link. As for the 4-lanes of the Bradfield Highway heading towards Manurewa 2 are from the existing Trans-Manukau Link while the other two come from the 2-lane onramp that feeds traffic from the Manukau River Town Roundabout. The four subsequent lanes continue to a large roundabout that give the exits for Papatoetoe and Manurewa with the rest of Trans-Manukau Link being 3-lanes either side or a 6 lane Highway.

Now for some extra shots that were captured in the last game session:

Next up: the development of the City Centre