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LtDan

Regional train commute congestion (1+2 cities)

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Greetings all,

First post here, thought I'd play rather "casually" and only signed up to get my hands on NAM, but I guess I can't play all casual anyhow, so I'm glad there's somewhere to ask. Picked up SC4 on a whim some time ago, after remembering playing /some earlier version/ maybe 10-15 years ago.

Anyhow, I've ran into a bit of catch 22 when it comes to regional train commute and I just can't make any sense out of it. My region so far is a standard from-the-guides setup with a main city (large map, 250k+ residents), a "Smelly City" (large map to the west, about 3/4 developed) and a hi-tech city (small map north of western half of main city, no residents, fully developed). Based on experience from the older version I used to play (where road traffic could be a pain to manage), I built rail networks already from the start, both in the main city and in the two support cities (eventually a large'ish number of stations), with two east-to-west lines connecting to the industrial map and one south-to-north line to the hi-tech one. They're also connected to Simland south and east and all interconnected with rail clover leafs.

It worked rather well initially, but as the main city was becoming more fully developed - and myself starting to pay more detail to fine tuning - I realized that many stations were very congested and somewhat illogically so. Quick google later led me to put all of them on on their own side track, which improved the congestion on stations en route to the other zones (and seemed to make the citizens happy since population took a jump up). I also built a south-north freeway in the main city, connecting to the hi-tech map, and developed the subway system, but nothing seemed to really solve the congestion, no matter what I did.

So I got a bit irritated, did a save and started bulldozing the stations one by one just to see what would happen (pretty much expecting a heavy decline of the city) and watched how the citizens would commute farther and farther to get to the remaining stations, up to the point of traversing pretty much the entire map. Finally I dozed the last remaining station, concluded that I had only lost some 10k citizens which seemed to be returning after some more cheetah mode. Road congestion ofc increased some, but only a tad and obviosly not enough to discourage the population.

Finally I tested building large train stations (had to use cheat code, access still seems bugged) and ended up with the first one having 14k passengers and finally kinda balancing out with three with roughly 10+10+3k passengers.

So, what's going on? Regional train commuting seems like a good idea, but how do I achieve balance? Will I have to use a bunch of large stations? And why is there no difference when I entirely shut the rail commute down?

I'm kinda frustrated, had planned to weed out the main traffic congestions before moving on to develop another map, but now I feel kinda stuck. And I thought road traffic would be the challenge...

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Most transit stations have insufficient capacity, especially when used with the NAM. Having 14K passengers going through a station is quite normal when using the NAM. I would recommend learning how to use Ilive's Reader to change station capacities; the basics are really simple. As to what these capacities should be, please see the thread I've also developed a set of all the Maxis stations that adhere to the guidelines in that thread. They will be made generally available soon, but for now, you can find them in the attachment below. Just unzip the file and drop the contents into your Plugins folder.

Maxis Transit Lots.zip

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You can't really fix the congestion; even building stations next door to each other will result in one station getting all the traffic while the other sits empty. The only solution, really, is to get a custom station that allows higher capacities, as the default buildings overload easily.

The way Maxis designed the game is odd. Even playing with just basic SC4 Deluxe content, the transportation and civic services in the game get overwhelmed easily in a city of any appreciable size. I've found that the only cities that seem to not clog up services are low density, quasi-suburban cities with lots of high speed arterial roads.

Right now I have two major cities that I play: Clarksville and Campbell. Clarksville is your typical Sunbelt sprawl city, filled with single family homes, strip malls, and freeways. The only appreciable dense area is the downtown. Campbell, on the other hand, is a city styled after Chicago, with dense apartment developments and an extensive mass transit system. More people ride the El-Train to work than drive. In Clarksville, the only problem is the occasional road congestion, and even with a population of well over 200,000, almost every street is green. In contrast, Campbell has problems with school crowding, hospital crowding, massive traffic congestion, and transit stations that are 500% over capacity. Luckily, Maxis had the sense to include larger school facilities in Deluxe, but there is no solution to the crowding in the hospitals or transit stations without turning to mods. If I play the game according to Maxis's rules, I simply have to allow my system to collapse and turn my city into a slum, because building more stations or lines will NOT solve the problem.

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The way Maxis designed the game is odd. Even playing with just basic SC4 Deluxe content, the transportation and civic services in the game get overwhelmed easily in a city of any appreciable size. I've found that the only cities that seem to not clog up services are low density, quasi-suburban cities with lots of high speed arterial roads.

Not surprising if you think about the conditions in California's silicon valley. This is where they lived and probably didn't get around the world much. Would make a lot of sense if the default cities were called Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamunga.

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  • Original Poster
  • First of all, thanks a lot z1!! I did read through the link you provided, but it's a bit beyond what my brain is geared for and I much appreciate you setting me up with the .dat file. It worked like a charm, at least after I had realized that I had to doze and re-plop the stations :)

    As for commuter loop, I believe I'm fine so far with total train travel being in the region of 20-30k passengers per day (out of a population of 260k).

    Regarding transportation and civic services congestion, I must say I don't fully agree. I consider my city to be reasonably large and I seem to have civic services in good balance (with hospitals being the largest challenge) and with few cases of transportation congestion. It may on the other hand be so that some further density could change my view on that, I have a few 3k residency and commercial buildings and they do soak capacity.

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    The way Maxis designed the game is odd. Even playing with just basic SC4 Deluxe content, the transportation and civic services in the game get overwhelmed easily in a city of any appreciable size. I've found that the only cities that seem to not clog up services are low density, quasi-suburban cities with lots of high speed arterial roads.

    Not surprising if you think about the conditions in California's silicon valley. This is where they lived and probably didn't get around the world much. Would make a lot of sense if the default cities were called Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamunga.

    You would think that they would at least have an awareness of cities like New York and Chicago, considering how famous these cities are within America alone. Then again, SC4 happened to arrive just before urbanism really took off again, when suburbanism was at its zenith. Nowadays the high-value growth is taking place in the city center rather than on the edges of the city, and transit is no longer just for poor people.

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    this might be sort of a stupid suggestion, but maybe put parking complexes next to your stations? They increase capacity

    They don't increase the capacity of stations at all. At most, they will increase the traffic through them.

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  • Original Poster
  • Rail stations have built-in (invisible) parking. Other stations have employee-only parking.

    That would be my impression too, seeing that a route query may show green lines/arrows terminating on the station lot. As z1 indicated, Ryandrums may be half right though, since I seem to remember (from reading up a bit about the basics before I actually started a region) that a parking house next to a station may increase the attractiveness of train commute, which supposedly definitely holds true for ferry terminals.

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    Rail stations have built-in (invisible) parking. Other stations have employee-only parking.

    That would be my impression too, seeing that a route query may show green lines/arrows terminating on the station lot. As z1 indicated, Ryandrums may be half right though, since I seem to remember (from reading up a bit about the basics before I actually started a region) that a parking house next to a station may increase the attractiveness of train commute, which supposedly definitely holds true for ferry terminals.

    The passenger train station has built in parking. All others require separate parking lots to be built.

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