After a break I am slowing getting back into streaming and creating Cities Skylines content using Neo South Auckland as my current example.
I usually upload both the RAW version for those wanting the entire run through of a city building session, as well as snippets highlighting specific elements like a piece of Urban Design or a Scene.
My latest raw run through from last week can be seen below. The focus was on building the supporting infrastructure for the Riccarton Centre I was also building alongside. This is my second ever attempt in 6 years to build Bus Rapid Transit (it is not my normal play style as I use the rail types more) given I have actual dedicated BRT assets available to do so.
So how did it map out and where will this lead next run through?
I will fetch highlights of the completion of Riccarton Centre, the set up of Riccarton South as a residential support node, further establishment of more residential for the City, and the full operation of one if not two of the Rapid Bus Transit Lines.
Divided Highways and Toll Plazas – all about adding the scenes
From time to time I like to add scenes to my Mixed Reality city creations in Cities Skylines. A scene is a focal point of a City you can go back to when either demonstrating something or just want somewhere to go when not busy doing the city building of infrastructure, zones, lay transit lines down, rinse and repeat.
Scenes can be as something as small as doing a divided highway when median barriers are not present or the highway splits off, or something more complex as a multi-lane motorway toll plaza.
In this post I showcase both a quickfire and more comprehensive set of scenes that adds realism to your city.
From time to time a two way highway or even road ends up being grade separated. Cities Skylines when it comes to divided roads is often a bit crude, but 10-15 minutes later a quick scene can make that highway division just that little bit more realistic:
I must get node controller to straighten out those kinks in the highway merges.
Motorway Toll Plaza
Some days a Mayor, Premier, Chancellor or the boffins down in the Transport Department reconcile to themselves that motorists should pay that little bit extra for using a section of motorway or road. In Neo South Auckland there are toll plazas on the intra city motorways that feed into the City while the inter city motorways that form a ring around the City are free. However, the toll plazas in themselves are a bit plain if they were so I decided to make a scene on one half of the toll plaza (that can be easily replicated on the other half). This is what I came up with:
The signs are animated as I made Lane 8 closed to add a bit more spice to the scene. It takes around two hours to build a scene like this however, it is easy to replicate using Procedural Objects onto the other half of the motorway. Means what took two hours first time round should be all done second time around with some good old fashioned copy + paste.
Scenes can create focal points in your city and can be both something as simple as a divided highway scene, or as comprehensive as a detailed toll plaza.
I will get some ‘How to’s’ on one of my staples in all my cities: the transit hub! Because Transit Hubs make the City go round – or rather not as much stuck in traffic!
Getting the transport system right – both vanilla and modded
In this longer highlight I go through the basic notions of Road Hierarchy and its planning, building and optimisation. Note: the City is still in very early stages so transit and cycling infrastructure will be in its infancy (localised) until the City further establishes.
I do cover both Vanilla and Modded game play styles.
Settling the infrastructure down, going through what Road Hierarchies mean (full play through)
In Day 2 of recreating South Auckland as part of a Mixed Reality build in Cities skylines I go through the motions of laying down the core transport infrastructure. This is a full run through, I will have separate posts covering the highlights of Road Hierarchies, and Transport Optimisations.
So why Road Hierarchies?
Would you put residential on a six lane arterial road, or send trucks and buses down a tiny road?
Next up: Day 3 – preparing the zones and establishing the city
Over the weekend I was part of Cities In a Snap – a competition hosted by Cazgem where competitors have two hours to either build a City or complete a scenario. In this instance it was completing the Traffic Scenario where you have a limited amount of time to get traffic above 82% and the population above 35,000. This was achieved inside the two hours!.
Below is the entire video (including a couple of interviews with Cazgem himself) on how using quick fixes to restore the traffic and get the population back up.
Not a single six lane highway was built. All that was used was inside the existing road corridors with I think only one or two new 4-lane roads built. Some cycle super highways were also built with transit going in at the end. The point being retrofitting and upgrading Real Life Cities do not need multi billion dollar large infrastructure fixes. The small nimble quick fixes are often more than adequate without degrading the urban environment (in fact the urban environment was improved as the Low Land Value flags disappeared).
After the issues with the Mods things got back on track. So here we are with this week’s stream a tad late – but it is here.
This week I focus on building the Downtown, the East End, and the first ever Metro line for Grand Manukau/Layton Cities. Layton City Downtown is a Tourist area while the East End is a Leisure area, which is controlled using the game’s District commands. As usual the first video is also of the Q+A from questions that come up from the previous week’s thread.
I must say the Metro Overhaul Mod gives beautiful renders. I used the Classic version rather than the Modern version for the Metro line. However, other Lines as they are built might be the modern version.
Next week we continue with City building as I continue to extend the East End and Watson Heights. I will also start laying the infrastructure down for the Ore Industry as well.
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:
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:
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)
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)
For this part of the motorway replacement there were two activities carried out:
Extension of the Boulevard
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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:
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.