8 Ways to Reduce Traffic in Cities: Skylines

You can reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines with the numerous potential solutions in this guide. Is heavy traffic and congestion bringing your city to a standstill? If it is, check out the different ways to reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines below.

8 Ways to Reduce Traffic in Cities: Skylines

As your city grows in Cities: Skylines, its traffic will inevitably increase. You can check how much congestion is in your city by clicking the game’s traffic filter. That filter displays a traffic flow percentage for your city and the higher that is the better. Some traffic in your city is unavoidable. However, heavy congestion will clog up your roads causing service and supply displays throughout your city and increasing pollution. This is how you can reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines in eight ways.

Read also: 10 Cities Skylines Tips for Building Cities

Expand Your City’s Public Transport

The most obvious way to reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines is to expand your city’s public transport system. When your city reaches a certain size level, you’ll be able to add bus routes, metro, and train lines. Make sure you add plenty of public transport throughout your city to minimize the need for cars and trucks.

Cities: Skylines - Release Trailer

Adding surface train and metro lines across built-up areas of your city without needing to bulldoze anything can be tricky. So, it’s best to lay out train or metro lines across open land areas you haven’t built anything on. Then you can build your city up to and along the rail lines and add stations where needed later.

A metro station

A metro station

Alternatively, add underground train and metro lines to your city. That’s the best way to extend rail routes across areas of land you’ve already built on. You can add underground train lines (tunnels) by pressing the Pg Dn key to lower elevation when placing them.

Select the Free Public Transportation Policy

The Free Public Transportation Policy makes bus, tram, monorail, metro, and local train transport free. Setting such a policy will naturally make public transport more preferable in your city, cutting traffic down to size. However, remember that this policy will also make public transport unprofitable for your city. So, make sure you can afford to set such a policy.

The Free Public Transport policy

The Free Public Transport policy

Add Pedestrian Pathways

Adding pedestrian pathways in areas of your city will provide walking route alternatives to roads. More pathways will make it easier for your citizens to get around on foot, which can help reduce traffic a bit. Try placing paths across areas where space permits to connect two different roads that otherwise aren’t connected.

A pedestrian path

A pedestrian path

Ban Heavy Traffic

Ban Heavy Traffic is another policy that can help reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines. Setting this policy stops big cargo trucks from using roads in designated districts. The policy doesn’t remove trucks from your city and does not affect highways. It is best applied to residential areas with higher traffic and smaller roads.

An important thing to note about this policy is that it doesn’t apply to an entire city. The policy applies to districts in your city. If you haven’t added any districts, it will do nothing to cut traffic.

Build Cargo Train and Harbor Terminals

Cargo train terminals and harbors provide alternative ways to transport goods to and from your city. Building them can reduce the amount of freight truck traffic. You could add a cargo train line through your city to facilitate off-road transportation of freight from one industrial area to another. Such a line would reduce the need to transport oil, ore, and wood via road networks.

A cargo harbor

A cargo harbor

Expand Spacing Between Intersections

Intersections are those traffic light stopping points where two or more roads intersect. The traffic lights at intersections are among the biggest causes of high road traffic and congestion in Cities: Skylines. Placing lots of intersections too close together throughout your city will create a traffic nightmare for its motorists.

Close intersection points causing heavy traffic.

Close intersection points causing heavy traffic.

You can reduce traffic by expanding the spacing between intersections along your roads to minimize the number of them. Build long stretches of road across the map that do not include many more than two intersection points. You can also reduce intersections by building roads to go over or under other ones with the Pg Up and Pg Dn keys for laying bridges and tunnels.

Bridges built over a road.

Bridges built over a road.

If there are already roads in your city with lots of intersections placed too close to each other, try to delete some of them if possible. Bulldoze small stretches of road between superfluous intersections to eliminate them. You can relocate buildings before erasing intersections if necessary.

Add Some Roundabouts to Your City

Roundabouts exist in both Cities: Skylines and the real world to enhance traffic flow. Unlike intersections, they don’t have traffic lights! Adding roundabouts to your city in suitable places can reduce traffic by keeping it moving. They’re good for connecting districts in your city with higher-density roads. It’s not essential to have lots of them, but they can help reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines.

A roundabout

A roundabout

Add Bike Lanes With the After Dark DLC

Bike lanes (or paths) can be a potent weapon for combating traffic in your Cities: Skylines city. Placing bike lanes will reduce the number of vehicles in your city by giving citizens cycling routes. You can place standalone bicycle paths or roads with bike lanes throughout your city. Such lanes can be even more effective at reducing traffic with the Encourage Biking policy selected.

However, bike lanes aren’t available in the base Cities: Skylines game. You’ll need to purchase the After Dark DLC expansion for Cities: Skylines to utilize them. That DLC pack is available at about $14.99 on Steam and Epic Games.

Cities: Skylines, After Dark Expansion - Reveal Teaser - GAMESCOM 2015

There isn’t any single golden formula that will reduce traffic in Cities: Skylines. However, you can curb it by applying some of the various traffic-busting solutions in this guide. Cutting traffic will make your Cities: Skylines city an altogether healthier one.

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