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 jonathan@ranters.net. If you copy it elsewhere, be my
guest, but be sure to credit me, Jonathan Murphy.