Cities Skylines Metro Guide

Cities Skylines Metro Guide

After creating the Ultimate Guide to Bus Lines I decided that I also need an Ultimate Cities Skylines subway guide because this public transport is so awesome that it deserves a separate article. So join me on this journey to the underground!

Why Cities Skylines Metro Is Cool

There are many benefits of this public transport:

  • It has a good capacity
  • It’s fast
  • It doesn’t use your surface room except for small subway entries
  • It’s not affected by traffic jams (unless you’re doing it wrong)
  • It can be connected well to the other public transport because you can build hubs

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks:

  • It’s expensive to build and maintain
  • The area should deserve a metro station – if there is no sufficient passenger traffic then you will be overpaying for a deserted metro station and tunnels
  • In some cases, it’s a headache to build a metro line (e.g. when slopes are too steep) 
  • Metro stations produce noise pollution so they should not be placed right next to a residential area

So, just like any other way of public transportation, the metro is cool when you know how to use it correctly. Let’s figure this out!

City Skylines Metro Guide – When to Start Building Your Metro System

Your citizens travel from residential areas to commercial, office, industrial zones, and back. Also, there is some significant traffic between railway stations, airports, passenger harbors, and tourist locations such as landmarks, leisure districts, etc. So, you need to consider this when starting a metro line.

Another point to consider is the distance between Cities Skyline metro stations and the minimum number of stations. The thing is the metro is not good for short distances – in this case, you won’t be using its capacity. For short distances, it’s better to use buses + pedestrian walk paths. 

Let’s imagine you have a residential district that consists of 4-5 blocks of high-density residences. You would like to establish transportation to a commercial area of the same size. Your first step would be a bus line that collects passengers from the entire residential area and gets them to the single metro station. The closest blocks may be connected to the metro station with walk paths – your citizens like walking. The same things should be done to the commercial zone. And then you connect your metro stations with a tunnel. 

It makes sense to launch your metro system when you need at least 4 stations. This may be a station in a residential area, then a commercial, then office/industrial, and some landmark. When your city is smaller than that it’s better to use bus lines only.

Buses gather passengers to and from this metro station

Cities: Skylines Metro Guide on Planning Your Metro Lines

Here is an illustrated lesson on making Cities Skylines metro lines in a smart way. 

First, define the City Skylines metro route you want to create. What areas should it connect? Where are you going to have hubs? How this line will look like in several hours? 

Here is the list of things you may want to connect:

  • High-density residential areas
  • High-density commercial areas including leisure and tourism
  • High-density offices/industrial zones
  • University campus
  • Tourist entry points: central railway station, intercity bus station, airport, etc
  • Places that are suitable for future hubs – e.g. city center or a place where several transport routes cross or will cross in the future.
  • Landmarks, especially when several of them are gathered in a single point
That’s a good area for placing a metro station!

There is not much sense in placing metro stations in low-density zones. Try to use buses to gather passengers at some point where a single station would serve several low-density districts. 

Avoid placing stations right next to residential buildings because this will make your people sick. Use parks and plazas or office zoning to create a buffer between residential zoning and a noisy metro station.

How to Build Underground Metro Cities Skylines

When the plan is ready, start placing stations. Watch your budget because that’s not cheap public transport. Remember that each metro station needs water and electricity.

Connect the stations with tunnels, try to keep them as straight as possible to avoid metro train speed reductions.

Now it’s time to create a metro line.

You need to create a loop, just like when creating bus lines.

Don’t forget to set a suitable number of trains and check your stations’ performance. When your city grows and you want to add a new station you will have to recreate your metro line from scratch. A recommended length of a metro line is 8-10 stations.

Cities Skylines Metro Lines Not Connecting Issue

Sometimes you may find that you can’t connect your Cities Skylines underground metro stations into one line. There can be several reasons for this:

  • Tunnels are on different levels. The line may appear to be connected but if you zoom in you may notice that in fact tunnels aren’t connected because they’re on different levels.
  • You’re trying to connect metro and train stations. That’s not possible in the game and the new Trains and Stations DLC added a lot of new stations. Sometimes it may be puzzling.
  • You’re using some broken mod.

Cities Skylines Metro Tips

  • Some economy. We know that Cities Skylines metro capacity is 180 passengers per train. A train costs 60 credits. The fare per passenger is 2 credits. You’re starting to get profit when you have above 30 passengers per train (30 x 2 credits equals the cost of the train) which is near 15% of utilization. 
  • When choosing Cities Skylines metro layout check out the best real metro systems such as Madrid (look at these hubs), Singapore (Lord of the rings), or NY (many people hate it but for me, it creates a sense of a real megapolis).
  • Try to avoid crossing more than 2 metro lines on a regular Cities Skylines metro station to avoid traffic jams. 
  • You may want to use a circular line to connect some of the stations located on the outskirts in an alternative way. This may be a good choice (only if you’re not connected industrial to the industrial zone, for example) but it’s better to do so only when the main straight lines are completed. If the ends of the metro lines are located far from each other, you may want to use a passenger railway instead of a circular metro line.
  • Sometimes you just need to stop. It doesn’t make sense to make your line longer and longer all the time ending up with a subway next to a farming area. Use buses which will gather passengers and bring them to the finish of the line which is located in a sensible place.
  • Avoid two or more lines sharing the same tunnel. It’s better to have more tunnels than to create train traffic jams.
  • Don’t duplicate your bus routes with metro routes and vice versa. Remember, that your transport system should stick to hierarchy instead of stealing each other’s passengers.
  • When choosing Cities Skylines metro vs train keep in mind that trains are better for the longest trips. To be honest, from my experience it’s a very rare situation when passenger trains work well. You should have a very big residential area connected to a very big commerical/office zone on the other side of the city without any other public transport options to make this work. Also, passenger trains have access to the outside connection and are an important source of tourists. It’s cool to have a metro line connected to a train station where tourists arrive.
  • When it comes to the comparison of Cities Skylines monorail vs metro it’s more about aesthetics and slightly about crossing complicated terrain. Currently, the metro can do almost all the things monorail can do plus it doesn’t need much surface room. Sometimes monorail may fit better when crossing rivers or canyons.
Singapore metro map, source:
Madrid metro map, source:

I hope this metro Cities Skylines guide helps you to build an efficient transportation system and have a lot of fun with this amazing game!

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