I'm seeing lots of people frustrated with the game, mentioning steep learning curve, etc., and I think it's because this game uses a hidden "rule set" that isn't obvious when you first start playing. So here are some "aha" moments for me that greatly helped me understand how to play this game:
- The transportation modes have their strengths and weaknesses and understanding these and when to use them is crucial. They aren't actually meant to be interchangeable.
- Urban areas generate traffic quickly once you offer transportation. This means that buses become clogged in city-center traffic very easily. When this happens, your profit drops because your transportation rate slows down and people get annoyed waiting at stops. Thus, short underground metro lines should form the backbone in your city centers. They are not impacted by traffic and transport large numbers of people. In fact, building an initial short metro link should always be your first step. And you should always take out a loan to build one if you cannot immediately afford it.
- Due to the high cost of underground metro lines, they should only be used for dense city centers.
- Trams suffer from traffic if they are built on roads. The key to profitable trams is NOT building them on roads. Build them through the plazas and divider greens where traffic does not go through. This way, they can go right past the traffic. Thus, always scout out the map for these potential tram routes and know where they can be laid, especially in city centers.
- Buses should be used for connections between suburban areas with city center transportation hubs. This is because suburban roads have much less traffic and buses are a good way to get about. When used in city centers, they should be used sparingly. Also note the travel speed. There is no point in buying a fast bus for city centers (where they are limited by traffic). But do buy fast buses for transporting to suburbia.
- The citizens know how to make transits. So the point isn't to create a line from A to B for everything. They are perfectly happy to take a bus line from suburbia to city center hub, and then take the metro to their final destination. So you should be focusing on making transit hubs where multiple modalities meet up. In short, your buses and trams should be feeding into your high profit metro stops. Also, when you do this, you make multiple profits from the same citizen using different modalities.
Please post other tips you have discovered.