The Ultimate Guide to Cities Skylines Bus Lines

The Ultimate Guide to Cities Skylines Bus Lines

Buses are fun in this game but often it’s hard to make them work properly right away. In this Cities Skylines bus guide I am going to explain all the details on Cities Skylines bus line creation and management for playing in 2021.

Why Do You Need Buses?

Just like in real life, your citizens travel between their homes, work, and commercial areas (malls, restaurants, etc). Sure they can walk to these areas but this works if the distance is small. If the industry is far away from residences and there is no transport then it will suffer from the lack of employees and die. Also, it’s just more beneficial for your economy – the faster your citizen gets to the destination, the better.

So, we figured out why you need transport. For more tips on public transport, I have a guide here. But when do you need to choose buses?

  • Buses are good for medium distances. Usually, one line can connect 1 residential area with 1-2 commercial/industrial ones. For long distances, it’s better to choose the metro or trains.
  • Buses are cheap.
  • Even though their capacity is relatively small (30 pax per 1 bus), you can adjust the number of buses on the line to transport passengers faster.
  • Like in real life, by implementing good bus lines you reduce car traffic.
  • Buses use regular roads and don’t require additional infrastructure unlike monorails, trains, etc.
  • When your city grows, it’s easy to modify or add more bus lines, no issues with free space for rails, and so on.

So you can see that Cities Skylines buses are perfect for certain niches in your transportation system. Now let’s figure out how to arrange them properly.

Placing Cities Skylines Bus Depot

Buses spawn at bus depots (regular or biofuel ones) and then go to bus lines. You don’t need to connect it to lines, it just has to exist before you can start creating bus lines. However, there are several things to consider before starting:

  • Bus depots generate noise pollution. Keep them away from your residences.
  • It needs to have good access to wide roads because when you have a lot of bus lines Cities Skylines is spawning all the buses in the depot will fill your roads and trigger jams. I prefer 6-line roads for that.
  • Sometimes it makes sense to add another bus depot to avoid situations when spawned buses have to cross your entire city to reach lines.
  • Also, when the line is set to function in night-only or day-only mode, the buses will get back to the depot. Sure this will trigger jams and you need to keep it in mind.
Buses are doing their best to handle the traffic from the Space Elevator

Planning your Cities Skylines Bus Routes

When deciding where to place a bus line you need to consider the following:

  • It’s good to use the roads with dedicated bus lanes. However, keep in mind that a 6-line road with bus lines has not the same bandwidth as a pure 6-line road. 
  • Try to avoid placing your Cities Skylines bus stops in loaded points. A bus has to unload and load passengers and this triggers jams
  • Your bus line should connect a residential area with a commercial, office, and/or industrial area. There is no sense to create a bus route within a residential area only, for example.
  • Also, it’s good to connect residential areas to different points of interest such as campus, airport, park, space elevator, etc. 
  • Avoid duplicating routes of other transport systems – trams, metro, monorail. In this way, one of the systems will not be useful
  • A bus line may be a part of a complex system. For example, you can use a local bus route to bring people from one residential district to a metro station.
  • It’s good to centralize your bus lines by starting your routes from a Cities Skylines bus station building. I put one next to some point of interest – airport, city center, central railway station, etc. Then my bus lines go to different destinations from this central point (e.g. Airport -> Residential area -> commercial district). Thanks to Sunset Harbor DLC you can build hubs so the bus station and railway station may be within a single building which is amazing.
  • Your citizens may switch from one bus line to another. This means you may have some bus stops which connect two or more (I prefer up to 3) bus lines. Avoid overloading such points with buses.
A bus station next to the metro station and intercity bus station

Creating City Skylines Bus Lines

So you have an understanding of what districts are to be covered by your bus line. Now let’s figure out how to make bus lines in Cities Skylines

The first stage of bus line creation
  1. Decide on a starting point. It should be accessible from both directions so you can close the loop. 
  2. Start placing your bus stops one by one in one direction.

    Here you will face a dilemma of how frequent stops should be on your bus route. Well, there is a simple rule – the longer your bus route is the fewer stops you should place. There is a logic behind this – each stop increases the time your citizens need to get to their destination. If it’s too long then they will choose a personal car. Thus many stops are okay for a short line but if you have many stops for a long line then a lot of them won’t be utilized and you won’t decrease your car traffic.

    Usually, I place stops in the following areas:
Several bus lines overlap next to the central railway station
  • Some gathering points for a residential/commercial/industrial block so that citizens can walk to/from it.
  • Transport hubs, airports, ports, railway stations, important metro stations.
  • Educational buildings (schools, universities, libraries). Now you can even assign a yellow Cities Skylines school bus to the lines which deliver your kids from their homes to schools.
  • Unique buildings (though I usually place them in groups so the bus stop covers several).
  • Park entrance.
  • Existing bus stops where I can create an overlap of 2-3 City Skylines bus routes and make citizens switch bus lines.
turning my bus line back to its starting point
  1. Decide on the point where your bus line should turn back. Usually, I use a road appendix or a roundabout. 
  2. Place stops on the other side of the road because your citizens need to travel in both directions
  3. Close the loop by connecting to the first bus stop from the other side.

    That’s all, your buses are arriving from the bus depot and start serving passengers
Bus turn around point in the road appendix
And look from the above

Managing Your Cities Skyline Bus Routes

So you created your bus network and maybe think it’s okay now. But be sure it’s not!

As your city grows, your passenger flows change, other public transport systems impact your bus lines, and so on. 

Looks like this bus stop is overcrowded and I need to reconsider the bus line

Here are the things you should do:

  • Watch the performance of your bus lines. Check stats of people waiting for a bus at the bus stop and the number of people inside of each but. If many buses are full then increase the budget but watch for it and avoid having the too many buses issue. If many buses are empty then decrease the budget and review your line – maybe you don’t need some of the stops. If a lot of people are on some bus stations then investigate their routes – probably you need some bus line overlap or an alternative public transport system with more capacity – e.g. a metro station
  • From time to time check the stats of your bus lines. I usually choose several less loaded lines, review them, remove and rearrange them so that they transport more people. That’s a constant ongoing task.
  • Always review your lines when your city expands. Sometimes this may mean removing even a very crowded bus line.
Doing it wrong

Cities Skylines Intercity Bus

This option was introduced in Sunset Harbor DLC. The Cities Skylines intercity bus works like an analog of passenger planes and trains that bring tourists to your city. It just arrives at the intercity bus terminal and then tourists travel to their destinations from the terminal. Your goal is to establish control over the tourist traffic in order to avoid jams. Place the terminal near transport hubs with routes that cover points of interest. Also, it makes sense to get direct access to the highway as intercity buses use it to enter your city.

Cities Skylines Bus Station

The purpose of Cities Skylines bus station is to serve as a hub for numerous bus lines. The thing is your citizens are ready to switch lines and even kinds of transport. To make it easier for them you need to know the place where it would be simpler for them to switch lines. Usually, this means the hub should be somewhere in the center so the distance to it is the same for all lines. Besides, you need to consider other kinds of transport – I prefer placing a bus station next to the metro and central railway station. On top of that, the bus station is good for turnarounds of your bus routes.

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