Metropolis - 80,000 - Millions and Beyond!
PART 7: METROPOLIS -- 80,000 - Millions and Beyond 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias.
Thus this part will provide you with ideas on how to get that bigger and better city and to control its problems that comes with growth such that your city will not become a "colossal wreck" due to the upcoming problems.
B7.01: Problems ahead
The problems you encounter mostly are no longer dealing with how to generate growth but how to facilitate it or rather how to remove the restrictions that are choking off growth. The better part of this part is simple on how to reduce that pesky commute time. You should also check out the checks and cheats section as I have placed many of the more dubious methods of city improvement there. These are dubious not because they involve an outright cheat or the use of codes, but simply because you are exploiting a certain aspect of the game to improve your city.
REFER: SECTION D: Exploits or ''cheats''
B7.01.1: Tax Surplus: Fiscal contraction recession
Again, you have to reduce your taxes overtime. Having a huge profit is great. But having a huge surplus is not that good. There is a reason why many governmental budgets are focused on balancing rather than profiteering.
Let me ask you, what are you doing with all the millions in the bank. It is not earning interest. If you spent them, they will lead to further growth. While I do always say fiscal restraint is good, after a certain amount of time when you have too much cash, it will be good to actually spend it. Of course I am not telling you to throw caution to the wind, but just to make sure that the money made from previous good policies does not go to waste and sit idle in the bank. So start your Keynesian fiscal expansion by either reducing taxes, building more amenities or just spend it on improving the desirability of your city.
B7.01.2: Utilities: Decay and New Generation Plants
The question here is whether to convert to that spanking beautiful and clean hydrogen power plant. Sadly while it produces the most power, it is the second least efficient plant of the lots. So decide whether is it better to build it or just import it from an dirty / manufacturing city that uses coal plants.
REFER: A1.05.1: Options: Utilities Type
Remember to replace the utilities as when they age they have diminishing returns.
B7.02: Standard of Living Parks, plazas, rewards, place them well and you shall be rewarded. With your city pretty much built up, with zones, education health, there is nothing much left to construct right? Wrong! Now it is time for OPERATION: Strategic Placement. Place your positive effects building to maximise its effects. This is not as simple as mere coverage based on what was stated as the range of these positive effects. This is since their effects diminish over the range much like the pollution effect. If you wish to be more experienced in OPERATION: Strategic Placement, you need to use save and reload quite a bit at least at the start but after some experience you will be an expert.
Here is what to take note:
A) Site Survey
Take a look at the surrounding area of the intended placement. Query the buildings to see what level of development the buildings are. Are they low wealth or low density. Or are they a high wealth and high density building.
B) Wealth Determination
If the buildings are primarily high wealth, high density and generally are your stage 8 buildings, then do NOT place anything there. You are at the maximum development already. Do not fall into the trap of thinking, "Let's make my city centre the most beautiful place in the region." Unless you are going for aesthetic reasons, do not build those positive effect buildings in that site anymore. Remember my advice against dual coverage earlier? The same applies. It operates on the same logic as why you do not place ten schools side by side as the education in that area cannot be any higher.
C) Recreation Selection
If the site passes stage (B), the next question is what to place. Go for the most efficient. Why pay for a structure that has so much commercial benefits when the site is a residential area, or vice versa. Personally I prefer a strong effect rather than a strong radius. But I do not know whether is it just me but it seems that certain areas like certain recreational facilities better than another. So perhaps you can try to experiment with the range rather than just rely on basing it on pure numbers.
D) Testing Time
Increasing desirability serves only one purpose. That is to get the higher wealth and density buildings to appear. Which means a few months after placement your income should increase. A good placement can raise income by as much as several hundred dollars or more. A bad placement will just lead to an increase in costs without income. So save and reload. I recommend that you perfect this skill or at least get the hang of it when your city is merely above 100,000. Any larger and you will have problem determining whether is the change in income due to usual city fluctuations or the placement.
B7.03: Pollution Even at this point, industrial pollution at best can only be contained by a green belt. And short of converting them to high tech there is nothing much that you can do. The pollution that really is getting out of hand now is traffic pollution. There are several ways to combat traffic pollution but unless, the expansion pack comes out with fuel cell cars, these methods are again at best only slightly helpful:
A) Clean Air Act: If you check this, your industrial demand will fall.
B) Auto Emission Reduction Act
C) Carpool Incentive Program
D) Commuter Shuttle Service
E) Green Belt: A row of trees around the more congested areas might help. But this depends on whether you left room for it.
F) Public Transport: The more people who use this, the less cars there will be, so improve it.
B7.03.1: Traffic Noise
I get a lot of questions on how to reduce it. But pretty much short of reducing city size there is no all out solution. However, do not worry, its effect can be easily countered through placement of positive desirability things in the area. I have often seen the best high density high wealth residential area having high traffic noise. However, if the area is those sprawling mansions, then they might not be as tolerant. Here are some ways that can reduce traffic noise albeit by only a certain amount. Most of it also deals with air pollution from traffic.
1) Carpool Incentive Program
2) Commuter Shuttle Service
3) Green Belt
4) Public Transport
5) Roads to Streets (NOT RECOMMENDED): Changing roads back into streets or Rezone to low density. This option is NOT recommended unless you wish to reduce population in the city.
Let me explain how changing road to streets will reduce noise.
A) Streets and roads can be used over their capacity.
B) But the greater the over capacity the less additional vehicles will use it.
C) Therefore it is unlikely that usage will rise to the same level as roads.
D) Analogy 1: As your bag becomes fuller, it becomes harder and harder to stuff more things in it until you reach a point where nothing more will enter.
E) Analogy 2: A lightly loaded huge bag can easily contain more and weigh heavier than a fully stuffed small bag.
B7.04: Industrial Hinterland There is a small debate especially as your region goes into the millions, as to whether should you convert all your industries to high tech or should you still leave some dirty and manufacturing areas in your industrial hinterland. The main focus is on the question of "What impact does these polluting industries have in the region and are they necessary.?"
The answer to this part is that they do have a positive impact. The reason is that growth of these lower wealth cities are usually faster because dirty and manufacturing provides more jobs than high tech, which in turn raises residential demand and numbers. And with the increase in population, commercial demand also increases. Since unfulfilled demand in each city can be transferred to the neighbouring city and so forth, these dirty and manufacturing cities do aid in growth of the region.
I have yet to come to a proper formulation of this part. Once in a while, I notice that when my region size becomes larger, demand in the big city seems to fall. But a new dirty or manufacturing city near that city seems to help. The problem is that I am not too certain as to what caused the fall in demand. Hence, all I am sure is that these industrial hinterland do help but I am not too certain as to whether are they necessary for larger growth.
3) Industrial Hinterland
Therefore my recommendation is to create some of these industrial hinterland in your region. After all there is nothing too difficult about keeping some of these kind of cities in your region.
4) Population boost
Another added effect of these hinterland is that they raise the general population of your region which is important if you want more skyscrapers. Since skyscrapers appear only as a percentage of population, they will not appear unless you have more population in the region. And you cannot expect the city with the skyscraper to grow because it has already used up the percentage of skyscrapers. Thus the remaining lower capacity buildings cannot be upgraded to skyscrapers even if you have the demand for them.
5) Movement to Suburbs
If your industrial hinterland grows too much, there is a possibility that you main city could suffer a fall in demand. This is only an observation and it seems to occur only when your region and main city is very, very huge.
B7.04.1: Markets abroad
As stated above, I am not exactly a big fan of the airports. But as your city becomes larger, the land connections may no longer be sufficient to provide you with commercial demand busters due to diminishing returns. Thus, if you see your commercial demand falling and strongly suspect it is due to demand caps, start placing these. Usually I do place at least one quite early, just because no metropolis looks good without its own airports.
B7.05: Sinatra Doctrine: I'll do it my way... The following two tactics are a little on the dark side. If you feel they are considered as cheating, by all means do not use it. Take note that you should backup your city before implementing them. It may lead to spectacular results but a failure would make your city become as worthless as a bunch of Enron shares.
B7.05.1: Shock and Awe Reconstruction
The basic idea is to bulldoze high wealth buildings to reduce supply thus creating artificial demand. The concept is based on that of cornering the market supply, just like Yasuo Hamanaka from Sumitomo did for the copper market sometime back. Then the rest of the market would respond and unfulfilled demand will rise, thus resulting in multiple stage 8 high wealth buildings across your cities. Of course this method of embedding shock and awe into the city to generate growth has a potential of a disaster.
B7.05.2: Desirability Black Hole
This only works if you have Patch 2 installed. It is because of the implementation of a check which prevents abandonment in areas of high desirability. Therefore, all you have to do is to place a lot of parks or plazas in that area then raise taxes to an astronomical level and you would be making a lot of money. Of course your demand will fall but those buildings in question will not be vacant. And when you have drained enough money out of the Sims, you can always reduce tax levels and demand will rise again. Again I warn you, save before attempting this.
B7.06: Commute Cycle of Death The rest of PART 7 will be ideas on how to deal with traffic. As stated earlier, commute time is one of the biggest stops to growth. Especially in the larger cities. Often as long as you can keep commute time down, your city can still grow.
1) Actual v Average Commute time
Before we proceed, I have to clarify something about commute time. There is the average commute time as seen in the charts and there is the actual commute time, which you can only estimate when you query the buildings. It is the actual commute that truly matters. This is because the average commute might show that your time is not that bad, but certain areas of your city might be having a long commute time. And it seems unless you can resolve the problems in this area, often further development across the city is not that possible.
2) Commute Cycle of Death
How do you know that your city has attain the zenith of commuter hell, and thus snatching the title away from cities such as London where the average speeds of vehicles in some areas are even lower than that of the horse drawn carriage. Here are the symptoms, call your local transport planners if you develop this horrible affliction.
A) New skyscrapers are completed, population increases.
B) New skyscrapers shortly display no job zot.
C) Several months later, new skyscraper is abandoned, population falls.
D) Shortly after, construction for another new skyscraper starts.
E) Repeat the process by going back to (A).
Let me explain why this occurs. at stage (A), actual commute time around that area is sufficient for the construction of anew skyscraper. But when the new skyscraper appears, the amount of traffic increases greatly because of the skyscraper itself. This increase in traffic increases commute time to the point where these people cannot get to work, hence (B) occurs. © is the result of the lack of jobs and people leaving. But since they have abandoned the building, the traffic that they generate no longer exists so actual commute in that area falls again to the original level, which was sufficient for the construction of a skyscraper, thus (A, D, E) occurs, as this cycle continues.
Therefore the only way to break this is to reduce commute time such that when the new skyscraper appears, the Sims in it can find jobs. Finally, another way to determine whether is this occurring is when you see your population fluctuating up and down over a certain range.
3) Falling Wealth level
A weaker version of this cycle of death is if you see your higher wealth Sims leaving the city to be replaced by poorer Sims.
B7.06.1: Black hole of Mass Transit
Whether you get the black hold of a bus system message or if you notice that your usage of other mass transit is not particularly high, there is a very high chance that you are lacking destinations. The effectiveness of a public transport is dependant upon the destinations available. For example, if there is a station outside your house but it only goes to one location, the probability of you using it will be very low especially if you do not work in that destination. Similarly that is the same thing for the game. Of course an alternative could simply be that your placement of the public transport is not that good. But even behind that is the basic idea of destinations and locations. If the placement are in areas Sims do not frequent not only are people not both want to take the system and even if they wanted to they might not find it. Remember the Sims path finding skills are not all that great.
B7.07: Urban Renewal This is the easiest option of the lot to reduce commute and restart your city growth. If you see an area having long commute or being abandoned because of it, the solution is simply. If a Sim cannot get to work, then bring the work to the Sim. Demolish and dezone a central part of the residential dead zone. Then rezone it with commercial zones. Pretty soon the place will be brought back to life. You may have to demolish rather than dezone a few abandoned residential buildings in the area to kick start the revival. I recommend commercial because it can generate more in less area than industrial and you do not have to run the risk of a polluting industry appearing. Also even if a high tech appears, the jobs they offer is quite little in comparison to the space they take up. Throw in a few parks and plazas to further improve this new mini downtown of yours.
B7.08: Too many cars, too little tar The bad thing about public transport is that not everyone likes to use them and your city, when it becomes richer, will generate more rich folks who prefer to drive to work. So you have to accommodate them the best you can for your city to grow. You would think that if you offered them a viable public transport means to get to work they would use it. But they rather not turn up for work and get fired, complain to you with a big no job zot over their homes then quit your town a few months later.
B7.08.1: Multiple Lanes or Tracks
Since there is no such thing as multiple lane roads, you can always create one yourself. Traffic problems can be generally reduced to one cause, a shortage or fixed supply, the roads, and an excess and growing demand that of cars and other vehicles. Therefore increase the supply of road to help relief the burden.
This obviously means that you should plan from the inception of the city. Remember those spaces that I told you to leave earlier on? If you do build another lane directly side by side, do not connect the two roads at every point such that a junction and traffic light appear. Junctions have a lower capacity and speed. Look at the diagram below for the two styles of double lane roads. You can even create triple lane roads.
This is to a certain extent is a temporary measure. Since you may have to build highway once the three lane roads can also no longer sustain the traffic demands.
More so for subway than rail since I only use rail for intercity connections. Simply create another set of tracks like the roads. An alternative method is the separate lines construction. Just because tracks are next to each other does not mean you have to connect them. Think of the mass transit system in the real world. This method has its disadvantages as it may mean that passengers stay on the train for longer than necessary. This is a stopgap measure until you have the cash to construct the multiple track system.
Use wisely and this will help reduce commute time, implement it badly and this will be a white elephant draining cash out of your bank. I am a bit undecided as to whether to leave a few spaces between them and your residential area. On one hand they create noise and air pollution yet on the other hand, these can be countered by placing more parks. Secondly, I am also undecided about the cloverleaf. It costs quite a bit but if you plan it well, people need to really have to make any turns to get to work.
An advise, save before construction because each block cost quite a bit and few wrong placement would set you back quite a bit.
REFER: A1.04.2: Highway, Cloverleaf and On ramps
B7.08.3: Paternalistic Approach to traffic
A simple two-step process determines the way people move from point to point. Firstly it decides on the shortest possible route. After that it takes that route without any alteration at all. Since congestion or even the availability of a faster mode of transport a tile away will not affect their decision, it means you have to take a hands on approach to traffic. In my opinion, the game should allow the imposition of road pricing or congestion charges on all roads. And that we can determine the price on each road thereby affecting the route the Sims takes. Petition to the Sim City 4 official forum!
Again, I see no reason to provide my own diagram when Chris McFadyen has already provided it for me. I have just changed the key. The entire diagram is still his creation.
This above is just an illustration of how to "persuade" Sims in a more forceful manner to take the highway. The layout of the residential and commercial is only an example. Therefore you should construct this method of highway layout to suit the setup of your own city. While Patch 2 seems to have improved the route finding skills, this method is still very useful since the improvement is not that much.
B7.08.4: Vehicle Commute Diagnostic Tool
You may use a MySim to determine how one would travel to work. But that has several limitations as a MySims does not use public transport and you cannot really send them where you want. Therefore use a dispatch instead. Either a police or a fire engine will suffice. Of course it still does not take public transport into account but you can set the starting location and the final destination. This is very useful after you just implemented a new highway or road system and you are not sure of its effectiveness especially if the commute time does not fall. So test it before your construction and test is after your construction to see whether does it improve travel and what are the flaws if any in your new system.
B7.09: Innovations Here are some stuff that may help reduce traffic congestion although most are quite legit ideas, some seems to be a bit on the borderline of cheating but most are just good planning.
B7.09.1: Mass transit Nexus
I am undecided about the effectiveness of this but, it does makes sense logically. Basically, they operate on the assumption that since each station may only serve that much users, you can resolve that overcrowding by building more stations. Alternatively, this could be the place where you congregate the various types of transports. This system is most useful for buses.
You need to use this in conjunction with an improvement in your subway lines if a subway is part of the nexus.
REFER: B7.08.1: Multiple Lanes or Tracks
REFER: B7.09.2: Train stations as car parks
REFER: B7.09.3: Web of Subway Tracks
B7.09.2: Train stations as car parks
Again another interesting idea, which has been mooted but does not really seem that useful is using train stations as car parks. Since a train station is the only public transport station that allows a person to drive there, we could create a system where a Sim drives to the train station and then switch to another mode of transport.
You should note that this does not work if you put the two train stations too close to each other.
B7.09.3: Web of Subway Tracks
This is an effective method of improving your subway system if the tracks are overcrowded. This is slightly different with respect to the ideas of multiple lanes.
REFER: B7.08.1: Multiple Lanes or Tracks
For some reason or other, simply laying down tracks that does not go particularly anyway around the station seems to improve commute time. It seems the game take into account these additional tracks and thus reduce the congestion on subway.
B7.09.4: Underground Roads
This idea originate some years ago when I was playing transport tycoon. Unlike Sim City 2, roads can be built on top of tunnels. Therefore it is possible to have one road on the surface and another underground to relief traffic issues.
There are two ways to build the road tunnels.
1) Raise ground
A) This is best done before starting the city at God Mode.
B) Raise certain part of the land in anticipation of the underground roads
2) Lower the ground
A) This is for those who already have started the city or does not wish to pre-plan so much.
B) Lower the ground and build a tunnel-road across.
This diagram is not a top down view. It is a view from the side a cross section so that you can look underground.
B7.09.5: Underground: Away with Junctions
This is an easier method and less expensive use of the underground roads. All you have to do is to raise a little slope such that a tunnel can be created under the land. The following is just a small illustration.
This little illustration is NOT to size. How much you need to rise really depends on your "skill level." As you use this more often, you will find it easier to build thus junction bypass with less land raised. You still need junctions in the game if not people may not be able to connect from place to place. Therefore because of that this is not too good a strategy, just an interesting one.
B7.09.6: Freight: Shipping or trains
Since freight moving to connections contribute to traffic, what better way to reduce traffic then by reducing freight. Since ports serve the same purposes, you could place a port near the industry, such that the freight does not have to travel across town. Alternatively you could use a freight train and run the tracks underground. However, this method does not seem to be able to reduce traffic that much. What it does help is to improve the freight "commute time." In other words helping to improve your industry which is getting choked up by the traffic too.