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Transportation FAQ by jonmphy
Version: 1.2 | Updated: 05/02/2003
Highest Rated Guide
Ver 1.2 Transportation in SimCity 4 [Table of Contents] 1. Version History 2. Introduction 3. Commuting A. Routes B. Times 4. Neighbor Connections 5. General Tips 6. Appreciation [Version History] Ver 1.2, Added ToC, version history, put in specifics for commute times and cap limits. Ver 1.1, Edited slightly, added diagram for freight stations. Ver 1.0, Wrote, well, SOMETHING, sent it to GameFAQs. [Introduction] Aside from the budget, this is what I believe the hardest aspect of designing truly tremendous and beautiful cities in Maxis' (or is it EA now? Bah.) SimCity 4. Sims are slow, stupid, extremely lazy and demanding and you are their mayor, parallels to real life aside, and you have to push them along in your ingenious and perfectly planned cities because, alas, they usually don't ever see it your way. [Commuting A: Routes] As of Patch 2, there has not been any real algorithm to make your sim-motorists understand which route is the "quickest." They only know which is "shortest" in number of road blocks, which means you must design your city to suit their tiny little sim-minds. This system works, to the best of my knowledge, in a way that for every "day" cycle, each sim will take off from his or her home or apartment and head in a bee-line to the closest place of work that matches their wealth. If they hit a business that they can work in before hitting their destination, they will stop there and call their commute successful. If they hit a bus stop or subway station before-hand that they can use to go to work, they will cease driving and use it, provided another bus stop or subway station (or however the system you set up is layed out) is within 6 tiles from their residence and job, and assuming that their wealth level is conducive to using such "plebian" forms of transit. For example, high wealth residents love to drive, even if there's a quicker, cheaper, better way to get to work. They abhor public transit and only take it if the traffic is so dire that they'd risk getting *gasp* pickpocketed. Middle-wealth residents will take whatever's fastest, them being the aspiring more bang-for-the-buck middle class that they are, with a slight emphasis on mass transit. Lower-wealth sims love mass transit, and will take it whenever possible, because it means they don't have to buy and maintain expensive cars. Sims can transfer from bus to subway to commuter rail, provided there is a road or street that they can "walk on" between the two. However, sims walk extremely slow, so don't make them walk very far or they won't choose to go mass transit for their next commute cycle, depending on whether they "prefer" mass transit or the quickest route. Among other things, this can mean: 1 - For Automobiles When you design a detour for your sims to alleviate a road's congestion, the detour will then be instantly congested and the original road will be clear. Similarly, Do not place "access roads" astride your highways. Your sims will always use the roads and never the highways. However, with a little planning you can design roads with a "Broadway effect," where you either deliberately bottleneck a road or simply have a limited amount of access from residential to industrial. What this means is as the road gets congested, you can rezone residential into commercial, which ensures relaxing of the traffic slightly, and also ensures commercial development (high traffic means high costumers). Plus, this is generally how cities develop. Res on the periphery, Com on the main roads, Ind in the center until Com takes over - at which point Ind goes to the periphery, Com in the center, and Res just about everywhere else. 2 - For Mass Transit Even though bus stops and subway stations work best within a 6 tile walking distance from residences and workplaces, it really does not work as an "area of effect." Since sims can't figure out the quickest route, they will never go *away* from work to find alternative means. You cannot say "there's a bus stop nearby." That bus stop must specifically be "on the way to work." So as you design your block pattern, the bus stops are best placed for maximum use at the end of the block, where everybody will best hit it, NOT at the center of the block, with the best "area coverage." Sims can transfer from bus to subway to train, but remember that they are on foot and walk extremely slowly. Since they always use roads to walk, putting a tranfer stop across the street is quickest, since it only "uses" a single road tile, even though the stations are further apart. In other words, B R is quicker than BS S RR B being Bus, S being Subway, R being Road. Sims take 5 minutes to walk from one road tile to the next. However, if the destination is directly across the street, it takes them literally no time at all to traverse the distance! How's that for consideration as to public transit location, eh? [Commuting B: Times] Now, each tile of street and roads takes a certain amount of time to traverse: Streets Roads Highways Cars 50 sec 30 sec 12 sec Busses 30 sec 20 sec 10 sec They also have set limits of sims that can pass per cycle: Streets Roads Highways Capacity 100 1000 4000 They also have multipliers on the time passed depending how busy they are: Road Capacity Speed Multiplier 101%-200%: -1% thru -35% 201%+: -36% thru -70% Intersection: -30% (assuming both directions are used, otherwise the sims will just run the red lights and stop signs as a matter of course. =] For the two tiles leading up to the intersection, the delay diminishes by 10%. The commute works in adding up the total travel times of all the tiles used for a trip, taking into account multipliers for traffic intensity and busy intersections. The total is then rounded up to the nearest integer in minutes, and put in average with the rest of the totals that were drawn in that cycle. Busses are preferable to cars in the sims' eyes because they are actually faster than cars (odd, ain't it?). However, they still use the roads and are counted by number of sims, (hence no indication of individual bus capacity) which explains why they don't lower traffic, only commute times. Subways are the same way, except they don't use the roads, so they *can* lower traffic. They're also very much like commuter rail but with smaller stations and less land usage for tracks, so it is best not to deal with commuter rail in general. Besides, as of Patch 2 in SimCity 4, commuter rail is extremely unpopular with all the sims, and thus a waste of money. Rails Subways Capacity 3000 3000 Speed 12 sec 12 sec [Neighbor Connections] Neighbor connections work to benefit three purposes: 1 - They are the destination for freight trips and increase caps on industrial demand. This, of course, is yet another reason to locate industry on the edge of maps, aside from the disappearance of pollution. Freight heads by road or rail to the edge of the map and into a neighboring city or the "simnation." It doesn't matter where the freight is going, so long as it is leaving your currently-played city. Freight can also head to seaports by road or rail, and leave your city that way. Since freight hasn't any destination within your city, freight stations are merely a way for the trips on road to switch to rail, which, as mass transit is for commuters, is faster than trucking it. For placing freight stations: N N being neighbor connection, R R being rail, R r being road, rrrrrRrrr i being industrial zone (however you decide to place it), iirffRiii f being freight station. iirffRiii iirffRiii Like cars, trucks go in bee-lines to the neighbor connection (but have no effect on traffic) so the best placement for freight stations is along the edge of the industrial road network closest to the neighbor connection you have made. 2 - They increase caps on commercial demand. Remember, port and river cities work by transferring shipping cargo to trucking for places inland and vice versa. Inland cities are at crossroads, and do the same thing. The only major differences between towns of farming and manufacturing and cities of trade and export in this game lie with the number of transit connections and geographic centrality. But you control where the "center" is, and thus the number of possible connections, so you can capitalize on it, given a little planning. Highways Subways Rails Roads 1st Connection 100,000 20,000 10,000 10,000 2nd Connection 58,496 11,699 5,850 5,850 3rd Connection 41,504 8,301 4,150 4,150 Each connection is fresh or redundant depending on whether or not it is connected to a region to which you already have a connection to. For instance, if you have a large region, and your northern border is made up of two medium regions, you can have two highways connections that are both worth a cap rise of 100,000, assuming they hit the two respective medium regions. For every successive connection of the same region with the same type of connection, the cap rise diminishes. 3 - They allow for long-range commuting and neighbor deals, allowing for your blend of industrial manufacture and capitalist core. The problem only lies in the distance the suburbanites must travel to work in the 'city' proper, so you might want to try forcing them onto highways and into subways, which are both quicker than their preferred travel by road. Those twits. [General Tips] Double your major roads. One major lacking feature in SimCity was the fact that Maxis still didn't implement true avenues, boulevards, freeways or any actual multi-laned roads as we find in our motor-oriented American cities, so you will still have to approximate with doubling up roads with as much as two-tile gaps between them as we have all done with the previous three SimCity titles. They still work, such actions, so exploit them in your city designs. Implemented correctly, and with equal development on both sides, the two roads will be used in a similar fashion to one another, resulting in a road with double capacity. [Appreciation] Thanks to Prima's guide for giving the specific (yet very flawed) information, Thanks to Simtropolis.com and Maxis' official forum for pointing out where the flaws are, thanks to Maxis for making the game that's lowering my GPA as we speak, thanks to GameFAQs for printing this guide. As always, be creative in your city designs, and if you have any questions or additions you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you copy it elsewhere, be my guest, but be sure to credit me, Jonathan Murphy.