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Development Diary #3: Public & Cargo Transportation

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another Cities: Skylines II development diary. Today we are taking a look at the public and cargo transportation options available for you when you build that dream city of yours!

An integral part of a city’s inner workings is its functioning public transportation system. In a fledgling city, the citizens can be transported by buses and taxis and as the city grows, you are able to invest in other transportation systems, such as tram and subway networks. Passenger trains can also serve local traffic if you are willing to sacrifice building space for the large train stations.

Buses, trains, ships, and airplanes transport passengers between cities bringing new citizens and tourists to your city. Buses use road connections while trains need to be connected between the city and the existing train infrastructure on the map. Ships are particularly useful on maps with large open waters connected to the edge of the map, while airplanes connect the city to the rest of the world through an airport.

Transportation also includes cargo transport where companies order resources through delivery trucks and vans. To support the local industries and commercial companies, you can set up cargo lines using trains, ships, and airplanes that in conjunction with trucks keep the industries’ wheels turning. Check out the quick overview in the video below before diving into all the details

unlock first and form the backbone of the city’s public transport network in the early game. They are a tried and true method, cheap and flexible even though they are very much affected by the traffic conditions of the city. Buses require the Bus Depot for periodic maintenance and come in two flavors: traditional fuel-operated buses and environmentally friendly electric buses. To use electric buses in your city you will need to update the bus depot to maintain them.

In addition to serving the populace locally, buses can also transport passengers from Outside Connections, and you are able to create intercity bus lines once you build the Bus Depot. Intercity buses can stop at the bus station or they can drop off and pick up passengers from one or more regular bus stops.

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Place either a Bus Stop Sign or Shelter on a road to determine where buses should pick up and drop off passengers

Taxis are a staple in most cities and that is also true in Cities: Skylines II. Taxis operate on a similar logic to personal vehicles, able to transport passengers to where they need to go, and in the early game, taxis also bring new citizens to the city who don’t have their own personal vehicle. Taxis are an extremely flexible public transport option as they don’t require lines to operate. However, they are low capacity, contribute to the city’s traffic congestion, and are also held back by it.

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Add a Taxi Depot to your city to provide citizens with taxi services

Taxis require the Taxi Depot for maintenance, but before upgrading the Taxi Depot, taxis can only pick up passengers from the taxi stand. With the dispatch center upgrade, there are no limits for picking up fares in the city. The taxi service can be expanded by replacing some taxis with electric taxis, reducing noise and air pollution caused by the service. This is done by upgrading the Taxi Depot to also support electric taxis

Trains carry large amounts of passengers and cargo and while their infrastructure size makes them better suited for intercity transport, they can be used locally as well. To create train lines you need to first build a Rail Yard, which sends out and maintains your trains, and connect it to the tracks. Trains naturally require tracks to run on and building a train infrastructure is a high initial expense but due to their transport capacities, they more than make up for the initial cost over time.

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The Rail Yard provides your city with both passenger and cargo trains

Train infrastructure allows you to create two-way and double tracks as well as one-way train tracks, elevated tracks, bridges, tunnels, and cut-and-fill tracks running lower than the ground level. Trains and other rail transports are able to drive backwards and forwards, and thus they can utilize track switches created by combining two-way and double train tracks. Stations also feature pre-built tracks which create track switches automatically when tracks are connected to them, regardless of track type.

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Train stations can be upgraded with additional platforms and connected to other forms of public transportation

Tram is a relatively flexible light-rail option when expanding the public transportation network in the growing city. Tram tracks can utilize already-built roads by adding tram tracks to them using the replace tool, or the tracks can be built separately, running on the terrain and thus, bypassing other traffic altogether.

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Run tram lines on roads or a dedicated network

A Tram Depot, which sends out and maintains the tram fleet, is required to set up a tram network. The initial cost of a tram network is higher than setting up a fleet of buses but the upside is that trams are quiet and do not pollute the air.

Trams can be built in the same manner as roads and train tracks: they feature one-way tracks and double tram tracks and can be built as elevated tracks, bridges, cut-and-fill tracks, and tunnels.

Subway is a fast, high-capacity local public transport option. The initial investment in the rapid transit infrastructure is high but due to its speed, it is a popular transport choice for many citizens who value their time when making pathfinding calculations. While the subway can be built above ground and even on elevated tracks, its biggest draw is how little room it takes up when built underground. The underground stop entrance itself is quite compact, they fit nicely between the other buildings without taking up much space.

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An underground subway station doesn’t require much space and can easily fit between buildings

Similar to trains, the subway requires a Subway Yard to supply trains for the lines. Subway uses exclusive tracks and passengers can access the trains from underground and overground stations. And like the other types of rail, you can build double subway tracks and one-way tracks with options for elevated and cut-and-fill tracks as well as bridges and tunnels.

Water transportation features both passenger and cargo options. Ships can transport a high number of passengers both inside the city and to and from Outside Connections. Intercity water transport requires access to the map edges by seaways and connecting the harbors to these seaways.

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A passenger harbor is a great addition to any waterfront city

Air transportation is a fast intercity option for both passengers and cargo. The planes carry relatively small amounts of passengers and cargo compared to the ships and trains but what they lose in capacity, they make up for in speed.

Airports require a large amount of room to be built, the International Airport being the size of a small town! Depending on how many air transport lines are created, they can also generate a lot of traffic between the city and the airport. When placing an airport, you can see the projected landing and take-off zones at the ends of the building, giving you an approximation of where limitations to zoned building heights are applied.

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Airports limit the height of buildings in the landing and take-off zones to avoid collisions

Air transport lines don’t require any additional infrastructure other than the airports themselves. The airports are connected to the Outside Connections with the line tool and the airplanes start traveling on the lines once they are created.

In addition to delivery trucks and vans, cargo trains are the backbone of resource transportation on land. Once a Cargo Train Terminal is built, companies can use it as a storage point for incoming and outgoing cargo. Even with no cargo lines, companies ordering resources can use the station’s storage facilities to drop off and pick up resources and goods, the facility working like a distribution center.

To start receiving cargo trains you will need to set up a cargo train line similar to how passenger train lines work. Trains then haul resources from Outside Connections to the terminal where they are stored until local delivery trucks pick them up for distribution within the city. Similarly, companies send their goods to the terminal as it is cheaper and faster to ship goods on trains than to haul them to the Outside Connections by trucks.

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A Cargo Train Terminal can not only ship resources efficiently, but it can store and distribute them to your city’s industry buildings

Due to large amounts of resources being transported to and from the terminal, it can generate a lot of truck traffic. Therefore it is crucial to prioritize the road connections to the terminal to avoid traffic jams.

Cargo ships can carry huge amounts of cargo (1000 tons!). They are slower than trains but are not held back by high traffic on the roads. Cargo Harbors can also store resources and goods to be further distributed, similar to cargo train terminals.

Cargo Harbors also generate a lot of traffic as delivery vehicles off-load the cargo ships and carry the resources into the city. Furthermore, the Cargo Harbor can be enhanced with a railway connection, allowing trains to transport cargo directly to and from the harbor.

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The Cargo Harbor can be upgraded with a railway connection to connect it with other parts of your city

Air cargo transport becomes available when the airport is upgraded with a cargo terminal, which adds an additional terminal exclusively for cargo transport where cargo planes can pick up and offload their cargo. Compared to cargo trains and ships, cargo airplanes are relatively low capacity but they are the fastest option available and not impacted by traffic in the city or reliant on available waterways.

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Upgrade your airport and connect the Cargo Terminal to the Outside Connections

In Cities: Skylines only buses, taxis, and trams had depots. Trains and subway trains spawned directly from the stations once a line was created. In Cities: Skylines II each land-based public transportation type has a depot or yard where the vehicles are spawned and where their maintenance takes place. Each depot can support a predetermined number of vehicles and this can be extended with suitable building upgrades.

The Line tool functionality has been standardized to provide a more simple gameplay loop between all the different transportation options, including both passenger and cargo transport.

Transportation gameplay basics: Depot -> Stops and stations -> Tracks and roads -> Lines

To create transportation lines for land-based vehicles you need to first build the appropriate vehicle depot, then build stations and lay down tracks. Buses traditionally use pre-existing road networks where stops are placed but you can also create roads exclusively for public transport vehicles such as buses as well as priority lanes on existing roads. Once the stops and stations have been placed and connected with roads and tracks, you can create transportation lines between the stops and stations.

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Stops are highlighted when placing a transportation line making them easy to find and select

In Cities: Skylines II, the Line Tool is more flexible when creating lines for road-based vehicles. When creating a bus line you can set waypoints that control the route taken by the bus from stop to stop, allowing it to avoid busy roads or intersections. The same stops and stations can accommodate multiple lines but the increased amount of vehicles may lead to some congestion.

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Waypoints can be placed while creating a line or afterward to reroute your public transportation

Similar to train stations, harbors need to be connected to the seaways with the Seaway tool. After this, you can create Ship Lines traveling between the city and the Outside Connections or between harbors in your city. Airports are directly connected to the Outside Connections with Airplane Line tool, no need for any additional networks.

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Connect your airport to one or multiple Outside Connections depending on your city’s needs

In Cities: Skylines each transportation option was unlocked by reaching different population milestones. This resulted in similarly built cities as each option was always unlocked at the same time, regardless of the player’s need to use them or not. In Cities: Skylines II, with the exceptions of buses and taxis which unlock with milestone progression, each transportation type is unlocked using Development Points in the development tree for Transportation - more on Development Points in a later development diary. You can select which types of transportation your city needs and unlock those to serve your vision of the greatest city on Earth!

The Transportation Info View gathers all the pertinent information about both the passenger and the cargo traffic which is separated into two categories. The passenger transportation data includes the number of lines present in the city as well as the number of tourists transported and the overall number of passengers transported in a month per transport type. The number of cargo lines is listed in the cargo section of the infoview panel. The panel also includes the amount of cargo transported in tonnes, per month and per transport type.

Furthermore, the Transportation infoview highlights all the lines running in the city as well as marks all the transport vehicles with clearly visible icons, allowing you to get the full picture of where and how many vehicles are currently traveling.

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You can customize what is shown on the info view to easily find where a specific transport option is located

The Transportation Overview panel includes details of all transportation lines, divided into two main categories: passenger and cargo transportation which are further divided into transport types. The panel gives a quick overview of the most important details of each line at a single glance. Lines can be renamed, activated, and deactivated and their identifying color changed in the overview panel. Each line’s details are accessible by clicking the Line Details button. This opens the Line panel where more adjustments can be made. The overview panel is very handy especially when checking the line usage percentages while optimizing the different transportation types.

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The Transportation Overview can be found in the bottom menu and provides a handy overview of both your passenger and cargo lines

The Line panel features information about the lines such as their length, number of stops, and current passengers as well as their line usage percentage. A line can also be renamed in the panel and you are able to change vehicle models per line if alternative options are available.

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The Line panel provides you with detailed information about the specific transport line

In the Line panel, you can also finetune the functionality of a transportation line. For public transportation lines, the options include the ticket price, the number of vehicles running on the line, and the line’s operating hours (day, night, or both day and night). For cargo lines, you are able to adjust the number of vehicles as well as the operating hours.

Ticket price affects citizens’ pathfinding calculations. Citizens weigh time, traveling comfort, and money as they choose their traveling options, and while time and comfort are important aspects in those calculations, money can sway them between public transportation and private vehicle usage.

Adjusting the number of vehicles on a line is a good way to answer the changing traffic patterns as the city grows. If a line becomes extremely popular i.e. its usage percentage close to 100%, increasing the number of vehicles can alleviate the pressure and shorten passenger wait times at stops and stations which in turn affect their pathfinding calculations as well! Adjusting the vehicle numbers per line also makes sure that the depot’s fleet is used optimally and that there are enough vehicles to go around.

That’s all we have for you today. We hope this development diary has given you a sense of how you can integrate public and cargo transportation into your cities in Cities: Skylines II. What’s your favorite public transportation option? And are you looking forward to more control over your cargo lines? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you check back next week where we will be covering the meat of the city: Zones & Signature Buildings.

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So, are we getting above ground and elevated subway/metro stations? I thought they won’t be available at release.

And what about underground and elevated tram stations, are those a thing?
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So, are we getting above ground and elevated subway/metro stations? I thought they won’t be available at release.

And what about underground and elevated tram stations, are those a thing?
They said in the dev diary that there will be overground metros stations.
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Are the underground stations now rendered? And what about the option to build elevated and ground stations? Road tunnels are rendered in CS:2, so hoping that the subway tunnels are also rendered as well.

Also, I'm hoping that the option to customize the underground station from Metro Overhaul Mod to be added into the vanilla game; distance from ground, curved, straight, side-platform, or island-platform.
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This look very nice! Do you plan to had underground train and tram station? Or maybe modder will be able to provide that?
From the previous dev diary, I had a remark about the light in the city. It has been said that less light increases risk of accident. I am curious from where this come from, because in my country, we are starting to remove public ligth more and more. Before, the highway had light everywhere, but now they are never turned on, except the one at intersections.
In my city, the light are still turned on but are all turning off between 0 and 5 AM. This is not a very big city (>30 000, with a lot of night life thanks to the University) but it is still a dense area (the closest city with more than 30 000 is only at 10 minutes drive and at 25 minutes drive there is a 1.5 million inhabitant city).
This reduce the energy consumption, is a lot better for many nocturnal animal species, it has been showed that it does not increases the amount of accident or the number of crime commited.
I do not say that there should be no public light in the game, but if we need to put it even in small town all nigth or on every straight highway or have constant accident and or crime, I would be a little bit disappointed because that feel like a 60-70's mentality where the energy was almost free and people did not cared about environnement.
Anyway, you can tell that if this is my main complain about CS2, I do not have a lot of them and I am very hyped for this game!
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Are we able to upgrade airports with additional terminals in a similar way to train stations with additional platforms? Also are we able to upgrade the number of runways?
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Will busses be able to stop at tram stations and vice versa?

Is there a way to make the bus bays shorter or longer? (In every screenshot they look like they range from one intersection to another, making them very looong?)

Will there be more customization for stops? We now see only bus bays or center platforms for trams. Will there be more? Bus cape stops, side platforms for trams?
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Will underground metro stations adjust better to undulating terrain than in the original game? Station platforms are built somewhat deep in downtown Helsinki for example.
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Train infrastructure allows you to create two-way and double tracks as well as one-way train tracks, elevated tracks, bridges, tunnels, and cut-and-fill tracks running lower than the ground level. Trains and other rail transports are able to drive backwards and forwards, and thus they can utilize track switches created by combining two-way and double train tracks. Stations also feature pre-built tracks which create track switches automatically when tracks are connected to them, regardless of track type.

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Train stations can be upgraded with additional platforms and connected to other forms of public transportation
This looks like a massive step up over CS:1!
I’ve got a few questions about the trains now:

1: You’ve mentioned two-way and double track separately here, does that mean we will have two-way single track?

2: Will there be options for something like triple or quad track for building express lines, or will we just do that by building additional tracks next to existing ones?

3: How will the game handle catenaries? If we can’t build quad track will we have to have separate (as in unmodded CS:1) catenaries for each individual track?

4: Will the game allow for non-electrified track and if so how will the game handle electrification?

5: Will there be different models for trains, subways, buses, etc, like were added later in CS:1 with different stats?

6: If we do have express lines will we be able to set up express timetables to increase capacity during rush hour?

7: Will stations (or ports and airports) be as customisable as airports are in CS:1 with the airports DLC?

8: Will we see stations with multiple entrances? That’d be a great QoL change over CS:1.

9: Will we be able to have underground train stations for downtown areas (like Birmingham New Street in the UK or Penn Station in New York)?

10: I left this till the end as it’s a more open question just kinda listing off stuff I’d like to see but didn’t specifically ask about.
How modular will the upgrades for stations (and also bus terminals, airports and ports) be, you mention that we’ll be able to add platforms but how customisable will this be? Can we add different platform lengths, through-running/terminus stations (or potentially both in the same station)? Cross over stations? Split level stations? Curved stations?
The ability to upgrade stations is an awesome addition but I’m not entirely clear on what those upgrades will be, could you elaborate on the upgrades at all?
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The idea of ships carrying just 1,000 tons getting an exclamation mark is funny. The tonnage of an average-sized containership is nearly 53,000 tonnes, with the largest containerships upwards of 200,000!
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Really cool, lots of little improvements! Reminds me a bit of cities in motion, but with some of the slightly more boring parts automated or abstracted.

Question: are certain outside connections only accessible by certain modes of transportation? E.g. some cities might be on an island, so only accessible by boat, or inland and thus specifically not accessible by boat. It would be really cool if an airport would unlock new exotic destinations for your citizens to visit or vice versa.
Hm... it's not as many improvements as I would've hoped for the "most advanced citybuilder". In case you didn't know we're in the midst of a climate crisis and public transport is typically what politicians (especially in the US) struggle with the most. So giving people more ways to rethink traffic and public transport would've been great. With a game like Cities: Skylines, the most popular city builder out there, you have the opportunity to directly teach and influence how people think and dream about traffic planning. Please use this power responsibly.

Here's some things I'm really wishing for:

  • Subscription based or contribution based public transport, so that each public transport use is free, but it's a weekly/monthly/yearly fee
  • placing metro stations freely without the need for a plot (similar to how you would place paths)
  • after placing metro entrance you should then be able to freely choose the rotation of the station
  • easy to upgrade train stations so that more tracks can be added (such as tracks for metro trains or direct subway connection)
  • add more entrance/exit options for walking on all stations in all direction, so that it's easier to create custom mobility hubs by making walking paths shorter. Why are there fences around the metro stations? They need to be accessible from all sides
  • ridepooling "taxis" (such as MOIA in Hamburg) or other means of car sharing that can be used to increase the modal-split
  • local cargo transportation via rail and ships
  • carbon emission date for vehicles with certificate trading prices for causing emissions and bonus for avoiding emissions
  • ... and of course: bikes! very important, for park and ride, too! Even cargo bikes can be interesting for smalles businesses

These are mostly things that I think can be added on top of the existing framework that exists now. Other things, such as more walkability, probably would've needed to be factored in much earlier. I'm still unsure why you choose US city design as your primary source of inspiration since, the way I perceive it, it's not only a nightmare for me to look at but also for the people who live there. We need to get away from it as quickly as possible which is why I'm a bit saddened C:S 2 is further digging into the status-quo than trying to solve it, as of right now. o_O

As I said before: you have a massive responsiblity with your game for shaping peoples mind about traffic planning. So please, for future updates and C:S 3 speak to consultants and watch channels such as "Not Just Bikes" on how modern day infrastructure is supposed to look like.
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This all looks very nice, and I like how each service now has its own depots, and how this affects implenting eco-friendly transports and adjusting the number of vehicles.

I'm interested in how each line and transport mode interacts with each other, and how we can create a cohesive network rather than just a set of lines. I notice that you can adjust the pricing of individual lines - will there be an option to establish fare zones, or stepwise/distance-based pricing? Perhaps this might not be in game at release, but could you do create a 'district' that covers your public transport options in the transport infoview? Will we be able to implement things like integrated ticketing between different modes, using something like a smart card? Also, how will things like cross-platform transfers and integrating different transport modes work?