Monorail! #CitiesSkylines

Let’s try Monorail

We are all familiar The Simpsons and Monorail:

 

There is even an essay on Monorails and Urban Geography: MONORAIL: A KEY URBAN LESSON FROM THE SIMPSONS. So last night I decided for the first time in Cities Skylines to build a monorail line from the City Centre to Thorton Park halfway across the map.

At the moment the line only has two stations on it (same as the heavy rail network) as San Layton City is a very young city having only being founded a month ago (real-time).

 

None-the-less I built the line and it designed for more stations as the City expands. Once you get the 70km/h speed restriction off the train moves as fast as heavy rail allowing very rapid connections.

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 You can also see some of the first developments here:

Now to get the daily rush hour of traffic under control (caused mainly by inter city traffic rather than intra city commuting)

 

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 Leads the Way in Low Carbon Future

95% of power from clean sources – sodding incinerators hold up the rest

 

Emissions free power or close to it. I talk about and advocate for it but do I lead by example within #CitiesSkylines?

 

This graph is from San Solaria City on where its electricity comes from:

San Solaria Power Production

If you wanted it in pure numbers:

  • Hydro from two dams: 400MW
  • Wave from two generators: 22MW
  • Nuclear from two reactors: 1,382 MW
  • Incinerators (around 10) 110MW
  • Wind from both onshore and offshore: 252MW
  • Total 2,166MW produced
  • Total consumed at peak is 1,924MW average is 1,550MW
  • Geothermal central district heating has a total output of 400MW with the average of 300MW being consumed (thus saving 300MW from the main generators)
  • 2,166MW total power production (not including Geothermal central heating) comes from a total Budget set at 73% both day and night

 

Transport wise of the 41 districts in the City about 10 of them require residents within those districts to have Electric Cars only with five of those ten districts also having a Combustion Engine ban (except for service traffic).

Policies such as self sufficient residential buildings and local/organic produced produce is also in effect in about 10 of the Districts as well with all new non industrial districts to have those polices and the E Car policy in effect.

 

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Street Trees are also a major push:

 

Charging stations:

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Going Green matters and San Solaria does its best walking the talk!

Does your City?

 

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!

 

ALL ABOARD. Light Rail Moving You Around. Lessons for Auckland

Part Four – Moving Through the New Urban Form

In Lessons for Auckland Ctd – Proof is in the Pudding: From Motorway to a Place People Love. #CitiesSkylines we see how the urban form established itself from what was a motorway to a new urban area mixed with residential and commerce.

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The question is how to move everyone around this new area and how do we connect it to the existing urban area and its transit networks.

It would be a waste to fill the area up with cars and have those cars ruin the ambience of the area. Grade separated cycling lanes are available for shorter distance and I didn’t exactly wanted to put smelly diesel busses down the area either. Enter the trams or light rail system.

 

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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

 

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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).

In the end there is no point building a nice new urban area for it only to be throttled by busses and cars. Local and inter-district routes need careful mapping out and in this case the trams were the ones that cut the mustard rather than the bus.

Also who would want their new government, shopping and residential district backed up with cars? No thanks!

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#CitiesSkylines Greens Cities Out. City Going Green

San Solaria goes green

 

The latest DLC for Cities Skylines came out earlier this week with the theme about being Green.

 

From Paradox:

Green Cities 1.9.0 Patch Notes

 

Once the mods I used were updated (Rush Hour and Improved Public Transport 2 are still down) I managed to get my City – San Solaria up and running with the new features going.

So far so good with things like an IT cluster establishing, some areas going totally self-sufficient (residential) or “organic” (commerce). Several districts have an E-car policy where residents must have an e-car while only one District has a combustion engine ban in place.

The new recycling centres have caused a boom in the industrial sectors while the new bio-fuel busses are not that great. That is because they only hold 30 passengers and I have big diesels holding 130 so we have congestion issues on Bus Lines 7, 16 and 21 which are the heaviest used routes. That said with the new 6-lane + Tram road asset out by a good modder I might covert some of those heavy used bus lanes to tram lines.

All in all a good DLC.

 

Some opening pictures of Green Cities below:

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Oh we had a bad forest fire too:

#CitiesSkylines Goes Green

EV Cars and Green options to be on offer

It has been a while since I have been on Cities Skylines as I was in the middle of a research project while now I am testing my mettle on Transport Fever (21st Century version of Transport Tycoon).

I will get back to my cities soon enough but it seems in the meantime Cities Skylines is about to go green:

Published: August 23, 2017 1:00:00 AM GMT+1200
Green Cities

STOCKHOLM – Aug. 22, 2017 – Paradox Interactive and Colossal Order are preparing to make players green with envy in Green Cities, a new expansion for their evergreen city-builder Cities: Skylines. Coming later this year, Green Cities will allow mayors to make sustainable cities, complete with organic stores, electric vehicles, and new services designed to make pollution a quaint notion of the past. Green Cities will arrive for $12.99 via low-carbon-footprint digital delivery for Windows, MacOS, and Linux PCs later this year.

Cities: Skylines – Green Cities adds 350 new assets to the core game, adding a massive selection of new visual options, complete with eco-friendly buildings, organic stores, electric vehicles, and new services designed to make pollution a quaint notion of the past. Players can create more diversified cities, or go completely green as the urban population grows. New in-game services and buildings arrive alongside revisions to noise and environmental pollution, making the skies safer for Chirper at last.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with exciting new features such as: Story to Story, Building to Building, Street to Street: New Eco-Friendly Buildings, New specialization buildings, new alternative service buildings, new unique buildings, electric cars, new parks — 350 new assets in all giving a unique new look to Cities: Skylines I Wish I Was Special, You’re So Very Special: New specialized options for all city zones, plus leveled-up specializations for the first time in Cities: Skylines So What So What So What’s the Scenario: New scenarios, new policy options, and a new Monument to make your friends Green with envy Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear More Stylish: Of course we’ve included a flower-crown hat for Chirper.

As always, the expansion will be accompanied by a free content update to the base game, which will include electric cars, road modding, changes to noise pollution, and more beautification options in the form of parks and trees, among other things.

For more information on Cities: Skylines, please visit https://www.paradoxplaza.com/cities-skylines.

……

Source: https://www.paradoxplaza.com/news?aid=Cities-Skylines-Green-Cities-Announced

Here is the teaser:

Should be interesting

Amenities and Residential Development. What Goes Missing When Planning?

A question often asked

 

A question often asked in the real world as well as Cities Skylines: How to upscale your residential area – that is how to trigger intensification or how to get a new residential area started.

This is a crossover post with my Talking Southern Auckland blog on amenities and residential areas. Amenities or rather facilities, services, conveniences, comforts  and creature comforts are things we all need but things we often forget about when it comes to residential planning. Specifically when a residential area has been upzoned for intensification or a new residential laid down (Greenfield) what encourages their developments.

 

The question above gets asked in the Cities Skylines forums as players struggle to achieve their aim of a new residential area or an existing residential area upgrading to a more intense and more wealthy one. That struggle can apply to a real life City as well.

Yes we can all lay down some roads, put in the pipes, maybe add a bus line or two and put down a school. But that is not quite it is it? Sure you get the basic housing going in your new area but not the more high-end stuff you are looking for.

Remember what the synonyms for amenities are: facilities, comforts etc and so on.

 

Let’s take a look at a new residential area I started in San Solarian City:

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This is a new Greenfield area next to an existing urban area. The basics such as roads, pipes and a bus line have been laid down. But if you look deeper the amenities reveal themselves and would be what attracts new residents to the area quickly.

Parks, public loos, a cycle way connecting to the existing urban area, ferry station, some basic shops, lane ways, a busway and shared space roads. All are classed as amenities, facilities, comforts and creature comforts and are what makes the area suitable for rapid development.

 

Looking at an existing area:

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This is that existing urban area I was talking about just earlier. A high density area that is still developing. Amenities are still needed to trigger further intensification as there is still quite a bit of blank land especially commercial land available. Simple things such as a new park or loo will often do the trick while upgrading the road or transit line requires a bit more investment.

In this case improving access through that large roundabout in the picture triggering off further urban development after the busway construction triggered off the last round.

 

In the end it comes down to more than just a road, a pipe and a bus stop to develop or intensify a residential or even commercial area. It comes down to what facilities or amenities are available for those residents, employers or shoppers.

 

Back to the real world simulators such as Cities Skylines look at:

The use of simulation games such as Sim City 4 in the USA and Cities Skylines in the EU has thrown up the question on their value to give input into urban planning. With Cities Skylines – How Cities: Skylines is being used to build a real-life city district was trialled with interesting results (see: http://www.pcgamer.com/how-cities-skylines-is-being-used-to-build-a-real-life-city-district/ ). The premise of Cities Skylines is around a few universal rules such a Government provided public amenities and infrastructure with urban development set around a basic framework of loosely defined zones. The urban environment adapts and evolves within the interactions and rules of the public amenities and the zones.

 

It seems a simulator has quite a bit to offer planners and elected representatives in how residential and commercial demand is driven within a City.

 

The new residential area developing. Notice I did Phil Goff’s million trees program too. Those trees act as amenity as they are a comfort to the new residents. So never forget your trees!

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Finally a drive through of my latest residential area:

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All Aboard! Taking Layton City Metro Line 2. #CitiesSkylines

Taking a trip around the flag City

 

Layton City is still my only City that used heavy rail as part of the commuter transit system. All my other cities either use a combination of subway and elevated light rail, trams and/or busses with heavy rail relegated to inter-city movements.

 

Consequently there are four heavy rail lines that run either around or through Layton City all of which pass through the City Central Interchange in the City Centre. The four Lines are:

  1. Layton Metro #1 and #2: this is the circular line that around the City in either a clockwise or anti clockwise motion. The Line colours are yellow or white
  2. Onehunga Line: This line runs from Olive Park in the South and runs north through the middle of the City before coming to its major interchange in Onehunga. The Line continues and joins Metro Lines #1 and #2 at Beech District before terminating at Onehunga Central. The Line colour is blue
  3. Manukau to Airport Line (that is Layton City International Airport). This Line starts at Manukau Interchange and follows Metro Lines #1 and #2 north until after the East-West Canal where the Line turns right linking up with the Space Elevator, Stadium Park, City Central and finally terminating at the Airport.

 

I will post the other Lines later on. But today Metro Line #2 (City Central to Manukau and back around to City Central going in a clockwise direction if looking from the south:

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Layton City looking from south to north

 

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Looking down to the City Centre (from north to south)
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Manukau Interchange

 

#CitiesSkylines Traffic Routes Map Management. Help?

Managing that flow

 

So you have built this wonderful large city but you wonder why your traffic is a bit shit in places.

72% traffic flow is not bad but not flash either given it sits in the ‘condition yellow’ segment. This means rather than a City-wide failure in your traffic (Auckland) there are more likely to be localised pinch-points causing a mess in nearby areas.

I know of three two of which are in industrial areas and one at Uptown which I am going to share today.

 

This is the intersection causing a bucket load of grief at Uptown:

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Nice condition red at two major intersections meaning we have a jam.

 

This is what it looks like:

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While there are bus lanes to move the busses the area gets jammed up due to a concentration of traffic going to and from the Great Solarian Coastal Motorway at the top of the picture.

 

So while I know the motorway is causing issues (surprise-surprise) I need to look to see where the traffic is going and where it coming from. Time to bring up the new Traffic Routes system that came with the Mass Transit DLC.

 

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Public Transport includes taxis given taxis can use bus lanes as well unless you use Traffic Manager President Edition to ban taxis from the lanes.

You can see that cars and taxis are trying to access the motorway from Thompson Street which coincidentally is one of the main roads to the airport. Meanwhile busses do not access the motorway but rather are accessing Forrest Street which is a primary east-west transit corridor across the City (and recently included a new metro subway line).

Freight traffic also primarily is accessing the motorway from Thompson Street delivering goods to the Uptown leisure district (night clubs etc) and a major retail outlet near the airport.

Government service traffic (so garbage trucks etc) are using Thompson Street as an access point to the City Centre given refuse facilities are located an industrial complex also near the airport.

 

So what to do?

Well here is Thompson Street:

20170607180128_1

Thompson Street serves as a main arterial linking the Airport to the City Centre. While there is a north-south motorway nearby the route is indirect and is heavily utilised by traffic moving between the parallel east-west motorways that run through San Solaria (one runs along the coast and the other runs inland).

 

Consequently options come a bit limited but three do present themselves at ever escalating costs.

The first is to build a tunnel further back up Thompson Street and connecting directing to the eastbound onramp on the Great Solarian Coastal Highway allowing to-motorway traffic bypassing the Thompson/Forrest Street intersection. This however, does not solve the traffic entering Thompson Street from the motorway nor the overcrowding of busses along the route either.

This presents the next option of running a north-south metro line from the Airport to the Victoria Park Interchange in the City Centre. This relieves overcrowding on busses and gives a new north-south route along Thompson Street.

The third and most expensive option is a east-west metro line from Hill Park through Glade Hills out to Thorton Hills which also houses another major interchange. A cheaper issue is to run surface trams along the road bearing in mind there is a large roundabout along the way.

Another option is to open another lane from the motorway to the Thompson/Forrest Street intersection given west-bound traffic is either inter-city or from the large industrial complex to the east.

 

So what will I do?

Most likely open up that second lane to  move the freight trucks through coupled with better signal phasing. This will be the short-term while I get a new north-south metro tunnel built connecting the airport to the City Centre to relieve the busses although that might get mega tricky at the City Centre end.

Already there is three Metro tunnels and a heavy rail tunnel in that area so some deep tunnelling might be needed. Or I could run elevated mono-rail 😛 .

With the new east-west link I might run it as trams given a metro line (elevated) is already in the area. As for a bypass tunnel to the motorway? Last resort.

 

Lot to think about but the new Traffic Routes Manager certainly helps.