Urban Design in #CitiesSkylines? Always! Urban Design and Transport (Integrated Planning) Evolving? I Hope So

Let’s see what I have been designing for San Layton City

 

Since Cities Skylines came out in 2015 I have been honing in my Urban Geography and Urban Design skills. That is trying out different spatial developments, different urban design techniques and most of all working the transport system in so your City does not lock up.

As a side note this is why I am using roundabouts more in my newer Cities as they do a better job in keeping traffic moving.

 

Below are two sets of slide shows both covering the City Centre and Garnet Hills. The first will be of Bus Line 16 doing its trip from City Centre to the Garnet Hills subdivision via a stop outside the newly opened San Layton Nature Reserve. The second is of aerial shots of a new extension of the City Centre and Garnet Hills itself.

One of my favourite editions to the game are the Pedestrian Mall and Shared Path assets. The Pedestrian Mall says as it does – a mall for pedestrians although it does not stop emergency service and service vehicles from using it. On a rare occasion a bus might traverse the mall but the speed limit is reduced to 20km/h. The Shared Path allows all traffic on it at a reduced speed of 20km/h and is good for when commercial is in the area and you need the goods trucks to come through. At the moment Urbanist (the creator of the Shared Path asset) only has the one-way shared path with parking available  but more variations are coming.

 

Without further-ado let’s get the show on the road:

Bus Line 16 and some wet weather

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Some aerials of Garnet Hills and the City Centre (AND  first look from the Nature Reserve):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Finally where San Layton City is at as of 31 May 2018:

 

Next up – a rocket launch!

 

A Bleak Day in San Layton City #CitiesSkylines. Also Checking Out some Urban Design Up-close

Tad wet

 

Just a quick update with San Layton City while I put together the San Layton Reserve post. Today we follow Bus Line 16 from the City Centre to new nature reserve at Garnet Hills.

As the title said it was a bleak day (well night) but no matter as busses and monorail move you around safely. Also a good chance to check out some urban design up close so here we go:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Garnet Hills

 

 

#CitiesSkylines Park Life is Out and I am Having an Absolute Blast. Also Urban Geography and Green Utility Skills Tested

DLC handles well with a few minor bugs

Well one of those bugs is pretty major if I can not place down the International Airport in your map.

Anyway yesterday the Cities Skylines Park Life DLC came out so I decided to give it a whirl – once the crucial Mods were updated. I didn’t have to wait long as by mid-day the Mods were updated and away I went for the rest of the day.

First a quick prelude in Park Life from Paradox:

Cities: Skylines – Parklife is NOW AVAILABLE!

 

……

Source: Steam

So what did I get up to?

Well the normal Urban Geography game play of building and tweaking continues as always. A new major suburb known as Kent Square was opened up in one of San Layton’s bays connecting the City Centre and Centre Park to the historic area of the City.

That said the Satellite method (establish a Core connected by multiple urban satellites) is being tried in San Latyon City and should be easier to do with Nature Reserves (part of the new DLC) being able to be established in between urban areas.

As of today San Layton City has two “City Parks” and one Amusement Park. The first Nature Reserve and a Zoo are in the planning pipeline for when I next load the game.

 

Park Life

Some early photos of Park Life in action:

The initial look around

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Building our first “City Park”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

All Aboard the sight seeing bus linking the Amusement Park with Centre Park (Convention Centre, Casino, Sky Tower and Monorail hub)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Some quick broad shots

 

And now for the tram between Centre Park and the historic area:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Finally some shots from a hot air balloon and other random shots:

 

 

I will get the Nature Reserve and Zoo built next week and test the Green Utility out further as the City continues to expand.

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 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!

 

 

 

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Airport to City Centre via William and City Boulevards

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

City Boulevard Line including Forrest Street

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.

20171117104328_1

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.

 

20171117104532_120171117104540_1

 

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

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

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!

20171117104801_1

Lessons for Auckland Ctd – Proof is in the Pudding: From Motorway to a Place People Love. #CitiesSkylines

Part Three – The Urban Form Established

 

Where a motorway once was is now a thriving urban area that connects the City Centre up to the main urban area in San Solaria City.

Putting down some side streets, a lane way or five, building the tram line and placing down some Government buildings marked the coming of age of an area that was once a six lane motorway.

Some quick retrofitting of a six lane roads that runs parallel to San Solaria Boulevard to place some new tram tracks to allow the running of City Boulevard Lines 1 and 2, and the eventual cross-city routes from the Airport to the City Centre (an all stop service compared to the express service run by the Metro system (think of it as the Northern Airport Line via Dominion Road and the Southern Airport Line via Puhinui Station and the existing Southern Line)) were also done before the final zones went down.

 

Once the zones went down it was time to unpause and let the simulator run through its day-night-day cycle and the new urban area take form.

 

The tram runs I will post in a separate post.

 

But here we are the proof in the pudding – once was a motorway is now a brand new urban area that links up two formally separated areas.

The night shots:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The day shots

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 And those lane-ways? Here is a few of them:

 

 

Yes the project was expensive and time consuming to pull off but the benefits were most definitely worth it.

Lessons for Auckland?

I hope so!

 

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:

20171114185222_120171114185215_1

 

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:

20171114190313_120171114185921_1

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

 

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:

20170708180953_1
Layton City looking from south to north

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

20170708145455_1
Looking down to the City Centre (from north to south)
20170708134026_1
Manukau Interchange