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SimCity 4 is a great game, but I usually start getting problems when my cities reach a population of ~50k people. One of the major problems is traffic.

What are techniques/solutions to this problem? What things do you do to effectively fight problems with traffic in middle-size to larger cities, that have worked? How should you place roads? Should you use trains or metros, and place them where and to what extent etc.?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

In plain SimCity 4, Sims will take the shortest route by distance to their location. This leads to some rather illogical travel paths where Sims will take the overburdened street and ignore your empty 6 lane highway right next to it. The only way around this is decentralisation. Don't just have an industrial third, commercial third and residential third to your city, have several zones dotted around. Mass transit also helps, but again there is a tendency for Sims to ignore it. Spamming bus stations is the easiest way to get mass transit going.

There is a mod called the Network Addon Mod that fixes this issue by making Sims take the shortest route by time to their location. It also gives you far more options for transport.

Decentralising your zones also helps with NAM installed, but you can also work by having some redundancy too - like having a subway and highway going to the same location. This works far better under NAM than under plain SimCity, where Sims will only ever avail themselves of one option, regardless of how overused it is.

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I have to wonder whether SimCity 4 doesn't have it correct out-of-the-box, though. Where I live (St Louis), I can get downtown from my house by car in half an hour, or by bus in an hour. Or I can drive to our light-rail system: 15 minutes by car plus 45 by light rail. When you factor in walking time and waiting time, public transit really is much slower than a car. – Kyralessa Feb 15 '13 at 4:49

Road planning.

  ---------------   II   ---------------                 ####     <- Avenue
 X|XXXXXXXXXXXXXX   II   XXXXXXXXXXXXXX|X                II       <- Road
 X|X                II                X|X                - and |  <- Street
 X|XXXXXXXXXXXXXX   II   XXXXXXXXXXXXXX|X                X        <- Property
 X|X                II                X|X
  ---------------        ---------------

Maximize the distance between each intersection (a longer road can take more traffic). And limit the AI's choices for choosing their path. Study real world road networks in suburban areas and learn to love Google Maps.

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