In SimCity (the 2013 version, aka SimCity 5) on the PC, the primary means of mass transit in your city boil down to two types.. buses and streetcars.
They’re similar in price, and it can be very expensive to experiment with them, so which one is currently better?
In the current build (Version 7 at the time of writing this article) I am finding buses to be far superior to streetcars in most instances.
With a good road network, you shouldn’t really need mass transit until you get to the 100k to 150k population range. At that point, you’ll probably start to get congestion at some locations in your city, which slows down your school buses and trash trucks, causing all sorts of problems. I don’t typically place any buses until this point.
I don’t usually mess with the smaller Bus Depot’s either, I usually go straight to the large bus terminals, since they carry a lot more people per bus and are a lot more effective. They are more expensive, but by this point, if you’ve laid out your city properly you should have enough income to support them.
The most important thing to remember when laying out your bus network is to pay attention where you’re placing your bus stops. You don’t want too many because your buses will get confused, and you don’t want too few because you won’t get enough riders.
What I like to do is lay out a grid network of avenues going up and down, and regular roads going left to right. I keep my bus stops primarily on the avenues so they don’t get jammed up as much with the vehicle traffic on the smaller roads, and make sure to place at least one stop per block (one block = four large density commercial or residential buildings in a square) on each side of the street.
Click the image below for an example of the street layout and bus stops I use in the latest build.