After fiddling around even more with Cities Skylines and the options that are presented to the player, thankfully not all at once, here are some tips about public transport I’ve managed to accumulate.
Buses are relatively low capacity, but are great for depositing population close to homes and feeders to your main train or metro lines. I’ve found that because of their much lower capacity and slower average speed, you really can’t have lines that are very long. Or, you could, and put them down trunk roads, and use them like a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, with smaller feeder routes.
Be warned that a BRT system does need specialised infrastructure to keep away from traffic, and since there are no bus lanes in the game yet, you’ll have to take care with a special BRT style system.
Here’s a guy with the beginnings of a good BRT system in the game.
Trains are good for long distance travel, but the stations are enormous, and take up a lot of room (not to mention the rail lines themselves). The trouble is that the more stations you squeeze into a line, the slower the line gets, and the trains themselves sit there a long time if you have lots of passengers.
The other thing is that the maintenance cost for a train station is 960/week, compared to 240/week for a metro station. In effect, you can build four metro stations for one train station, and there’s less hassle with building flyovers and whatnot.
I suggest using the trains as actual long distance trunk lines, moving from district to district. Good integration with a metro link or local buses can help to distribute passengers from there.
I love the metro system implemented in Cities Skylines, but sadly there are some faults with it. Primarily, you can’t stack metro stations on top of each other like you could in Cities in Motion for an interchange. You can route multiple lines through a station, but that decreases the efficiency of the system overall.
On the other hand, you might be able to build the lines independent of each other, and just give the pedestrians a method of crossing the road to get to the other line. It’s not quite as good as a six platform metro complex, but it will have to do for now.
This really is the most efficient way of moving people around your cities. It takes up very little room, it’s relatively cheap and has good capacity per vehicle. Even better, they completely avoid all the traffic lights and jams that can build up. Marvelous.