SimCity 2013 Mass Transit Guide – Buses, Streetcars, Trains, Boats, Planes

In SimCity, one major issue you could face is transport. Sure, your city might have the finest road design and layout, but it’ll often end up suffering from traffic jams and mishaps.

This can lead to serious secondary problems. For example, following a disaster, your ambulances and fire fighters may not be able to make it in time because of road blocks and traffic issues, increasing the casualty toll and also the damage.

Thus, it’s really important to build a mass transit system for your city. Sadly, they don’t come very cheap, but the direct and indirect benefits of having a good transportation system are quite evident.

Furthermore, they reasonably decrease the amount of cars on the road, which reduces overall traffic and prevention of jams and road blocks. For more help on SimCity, read our Electronics Specialization, Trade Specialization and Power, Water, Sewage Guide.

SimCity Mass Transit Systam

The most basic type of Mass Transit system is that of Buses.


Buses are the most cost-effective ways of transport in the city. They are mainly used by low and mid wealth citizens, and also by low tier tourists.

You can start off with a few Bus Depots and Bus Stops, and then slowly expand the system to get an entire Bus Terminal, some garages, and spread the access of the buses.

The latter bit is important because these very buses may at the end prove to be the sources of congestion on the road. This will result in Sims skipping their work and study, which could actually have a drastic effect on the economy of your city.

Shuttle Bus Depot

  • Cost: 20,000
  • Operational Cost: 300 per hour
  • Buses: 3
  • Bus Capacity: 40 Sims


  • Town Hall

The simple bus depot consists of three buses. This is pretty good if you’ve noticed traffic issues for the first time. You should couple Bus Depots with Bus stops, which are as follows:

  • Cost: 200
  • Operational Cost: 10 per hour
  • Bus Stop Capacity: 125 Sims


  • Shuttle Bus Depot
/ Bus Terminal in region

Bus Depots can be further improved with the help of Shuttle Bus Lots, which cost an additional 7000, but add 3 more buses to the party. You can have a maximum of 8 Bus Lots of a Depot.

Park and Ride

  • Cost: 400
  •  Operational Cost: 30 per hour
  • Bus Stop Capacity: 80 Sims


  • Shuttle Bus Depot
/ Bus Terminal in region

The Park and Ride is basically a bus stop, except that it allows travelers to park cars in the parking lot, and then hop on the bus.

This is pretty useful if you have workers and commuters coming out of the city. It’s generally recommended to build a couple of these near the highway for easy access.

Bus Terminal

  • Cost: 45,000
  • Operational Cost: 750 per hour
  • Buses: 3
  • Bus Capacity: 80 Sims


  • City Hall
  • Department of Transportation in region

The Bus Terminal is basically the bigger brother of Bus Depots. This dispatches very large 80-capacity buses, which greatly reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.

Not only that, it also offers a fairly large parking garage so that commuters can park their cars there. It’s ideal to have a Bus Terminal as well as a smaller Bus Depot, as this will greatly reduce the general traffic.

The cost of the Bus Terminal is reasonably higher than the Bus Depot, but it can pay off, particularly in high density avenues of your city where there isn’t too much traffic.

Like the Bus Depot, you can add up to 8 Municipal Bus Garage modules to the Bus Terminal, increasing the number of buses by 3 for each module. But the cost of the module itself is 15,000!


Another nice alternative to buses (or perhaps a good assistance to them) are street cars. It’s quite important to actually have some street cars being used in your city.

Sure, they aren’t as fast as buses, but having separate tracks gives them a lot of advantage, making them even more suitable for reducing traffic issues than buses themselves.

The only problem with constructing streetcars is that you’ll need a good amount of space. You’ll need to have a High Density Streetcar Avenue, which will then have to be managed properly in collaboration with Streetcar Depots and Streetcar stops.

Streetcar Depot

  • Cost: 30,000
  • Operational Cost: 375 per hour
  • Streetcars: 3
  • Capacity: 200 Sims


  • Town Hall

Streetcar Depots are similar to Bus Depots, except that they act as hubs for streetcars. The Depot building will dispatch and house streetcars throughout the city.

It’s highly recommended that you actually upgrade a currently existing High Density Avenue to a High Density Streetcar Avenue before you construct a depot.

Next, it’s important to target such areas where there is a lot of congestion. Depots serve well near domestic places so that Sims can use them. Streetcars are mainly operated by low and mid wealth Sims, so you should know which districts to place them with.

For increased efficiency, you should consider adding some Streetcar Garage modules to your depot. Each module costs 3,000, and will increase your streetcar capacity by a good amount.

In addition to the depot and module, you’ll need a collection of well-placed streetcar stops along the roadsides of targeted areas. You should have them in domestic as well as commercial areas.

Furthermore, sometimes tourists will opt for streetcars instead of buses, so it’s not a bad idea to have some stops near tourist attraction areas.

A street car stop has the following expenditures:

  • Cost: 500
  • Operational Cost: 30 per hour
  • Streetcar Stop Capacity: 200 Sims


  • Streetcar Depot

You’ll get a good idea of the right places to place the stops by the highlighted green area.

Basically, this represents the walking distance that Sims would take to get to the stop before going after any other method of transport. Add some adjacent stops according to the green highlighted area so they can cover as much space as possible.

High Density Streetcar Avenue

  • Cost: 30
  • Operational Cost: None
  • Number of Lanes: 6

Maximum Density Supported:

  • High

The High Density Streetcar Avenue is a must-have if you’ve got a streetcar system running in your city. You should create a streetcar depot adjacent to the avenue to gain advantage of having one. Then, you can create streetcar stops giving Sims a place to board and get off a streetcar.

As ridership increases, fewer and fewer cars will appear on the venue, greatly reducing congestion and traffic issues.

Street Tracks
It’s important to have street tracks between different High Density Streetcar Avenues that never really connect. With this, you can interconnect different areas of a large city.

Try to build tracks in places that do not intersect conventional roads, as the streetcars will have to obey traffic rules, which may lead to congestion and traffic problems. This can mean extending the tracks through underdeveloped areas, even if the route does get longer.


Streetcars and Buses offer a good solution to traffic issues inside a specific city, but for tourists and travel across interconnected cities in a given region, you need something faster and more effective.

That’s where trains come in. Trains will not only transport normal citizens between cities, but also increase the number of tourists that come to the city.

Another important thing to remember is that medium wealth tourists will go mainly for trains, so it’s a good idea if you wish to target such audience.

However, there is one slight problem with trains: you need to have a Passenger Train Station in your city AND the other connected cities. Without that, trains are completely worthless.

Passenger Train Station

  • Cost: 40,000
  • Operational Cost: 375 per hour
  • Train Capacity: 400 Sims


  • City Hall in region
  • Department of Transportation in region

Passenger Train Stations can build right next to a train track running in your city, or you can have it branch of the main tracks using the Heavy Rail Tracks.

Either way, the single most important part of the train system is the Passenger Train Station. It is also very important that the nearby cities have one as well.

Another important thing to remember is that lots of tourist inflow will be experienced once you have a train system going on. Thus, it’s always a good idea to create a Passenger Train Station near places where tourists would go. This will increase the rate at which you can benefits from tourism.

Passenger Train Stations must also be connected to your road network for easy access. Two lines from the station can be connected to your main roads, and it’s generally recommended to use both so that inflow and outflow of traffic is possible from the station.

Heavy Rail Tracks

  • Cost: 20
  • Operational Cost: None


  • City Hall in region
  • Department of Transportation in region

It’s highly recommended not to place stations near the tracks, because most tracks run around the parameter of a city, making it difficult for people to travel inside the city once off the train. Thus, you’ll need to branch off from the conventional tracks and place the station in more believable areas, so that tourists can enjoy the nearby delights and workers can get to work easily.

This can be done with the help of Heavy Rail Tracks. These rail tracks can intersect existing roads, but traffic only stops when a train is rolling through town.

The good thing about these tracks is that you won’t need to loop back, as the train switches it and will come back on the same tracks.


If you have a bit of water around your city parameters, then consider using boats and ferries as one other method of effective transport.

Boats and ships will generally be used by tourists, but ferries can also be used by workers coming from or going to other nearby cities. If you add a Cruise Ship Dock at a terminal, then you’ll likely be visited by a load of wealthy tourists. Remember, high wealth tourists will use ships and airports to travel.

It’s also important that you have some really fancy attractions near your port. Casinos on the shore side are a real bonus, and will guarantee plenty of profits if you have the Cruise Ship Docks up.

The only problem is that waterworks are considerably costlier than trains, streetcars, and buses. I’d recommend leaving this underdeveloped until you have the other systems established and functioning efficiently.

Ferry Terminal

  • Cost: 31,000
  • Operational Cost: 575 per hour
  • Ferry Capacity: 1,000 Sims


  • City Hall in region
  • Department of Transportation in region

Ferry Terminals will be ideal for medium wealth tourists and also workers that are coming to or going from your city. Like Passenger Train Stations, the Ferry Terminals have two possible connections to your road network. Sadly, Ferry Terminals are restricted in location by access to a natural waterfront.

It’s thus important to have at least one city road running near the waterfront areas, so that you can connect an ingoing and outgoing road from the terminal to the roads for ease of access.

For using Ferry Terminals as methods of transportation for workers, you’ll need to make sure that your neighboring cities also have a terminal. If they don’t then Ferry Terminals can be used for tourists, particularly with the Cruise Ship Dock module.

You’ll need normal passenger ferry docks on your terminal for the workers to come in, which have the following expenditures:

  • Cost: 6,000
  • Operational Cost: 200 per hour
  • Ferry Capacity: 1,000 Sims
  • Maximum Modules: 2

The Cruise Ship Dock is a much more attractive offer, as it will bring lots of medium and high wealth tourists to the place. Just make sure there are sufficient parks and high quality casinos to fulfill their expectations.

  • Cruise Ship Dock Cost: 10,000
  • Operational Cost: 375 per hour
  • Ferry Capacity: 2,000 Sims
  • Maximum Modules: 2


Planes and the Municipal Airport are perhaps the coolest transport, and also the most challenging. This is because Sims will hate to live next to airport areas, thus requiring you to set aside a very large part of the land in order to satisfy the comfort of your citizens and to keep things in the air.

Airplanes are mainly used by high wealth tourists, and are also a great way for local industries to export their freight.

Airports will also allow the Police force to use helicopters, which will also aid in Large Fire Stations. The Mayor’s Mansion also requires a Municipal Airport to operate.

Airplanes won’t have as much capacity as the ships and trains, but their speed will ensure that rate of inflow and outflow of citizens and tourists is greatly increased, thus being a very effective method of mass transit.

Municipal Airport

  • Cost: 85,000
  • Operational Cost: 500 per hour
  • Terminal Capacity: 200 Sims


  • City Hall in region
  • Department of Transportation in region

You’ll have to make sure that the Municipal Airport is as far away from the main domestic areas of the city as possible.

You’ll also have to make sure that there is adequate spare land to make the airport on, especially if you consider building multiple runways (which is highly recommended).

It’s actually considerable to place the airport in your industrial zone, so that industries can import/export goods easily.

Freight shipping will greatly increase your city’s income, particularly if it is industry-heavy like mining cities, oil cities, or one with consumer electronics industries.

You’ll need some Cargo Terminals for this though, and they have the following expenditure:

  • Cost: 8,000
  • Operational Cost: 300 per hour
  • Maximum Modules: 4

If you wish to attract medium and high wealth tourists to your city, then building a Passenger Terminal Module is an extremely important thing. These have the following expenditure:

  • Cost: 8,500
  • Operational Cost: 350 per hour
  • Maximum Modules: 4

You will also want to have multiple runways if you desire more frequent flights. All modern airports around the world have more than one runway, and it’s highly recommended you do the same for your airport.

  • Cost: 15,000
  • Operational Cost: 250 per hour
  • Terminal Capacity: 200 Sims
  • Maximum Modules: 4

How To Manage Mass Transit System

It’s important to understand how to manage the mass transit systems. As you can see, none of them are really cheap, so gradually improving your system is better than full-on investment at a single moment. You should start off with improve your in-city traffic, as this will lead to direct benefits.

Once done, consider building trains and airports. I recommend leaving boats and ferry transport for the last, as they require a very specific set of terrain for construction.

It’s important you plan out the locations you wish to build your airport and train station at the start. You would want to build some good attractions near the stations, while making sure the airport is segregated from the domestic areas of the city (and ideally near the industries).

It’s also important to sometimes use multiple transit systems in specific locations. For example, you’d want both bus stops and streetcar stops near Universities and other similar busy areas. Airports, train stations, and ferry terminals should also have bus and streetcar stops.

Another important thing to note is that your wealthy citizens won’t be using public transport, and it’s thus important to avoid unnecessary bus stops in such areas.

Target the working class citizens in this case, and make sure that almost all the domestic areas have easy access to buses and/or streetcars.

You would also want to plan ahead and make sure that tourist districts and attractions are easily accessible to those arriving from train stations, ferries, and/or airplanes.

You should make that the central portion of the multi-city transit systems to avoid taxis clogging up on the main roads of your city.

Haider is a freelance contributor, who loves video games, playing guitar, and aviation. He is a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) ...