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Managing a large passenger network

Started by Michael Hauber, July 04, 2013, 03:34:12 AM

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Michael Hauber

How do people organise and manage a large passenger network?  I build one station per town, and organise bus lines to all converge on this station.  Each bus line would be named after the town, with an a,b,c etc added to the end.  Then each bus stop would be named after the bus line, with a 1,2,3 etc added.  So if the town was Appinghall, I might have a bus stop Appinghall b3 which is the 3rd stop on the second line built in that town.  The train station would be named Appinghall station, or whatever name the game gives me (typically Appinghall x station).  Then I would have a number of train lines connecting the towns together.  I would Identify a small number of rail hubs, connect the hubs together, and add lines radiating from these hubs to each town.  I would typically name them after the hub town first, then the town at the far end of the line next.  I would also add a mailbox at every bus stop and station, and add postal vehicles to every bus route, and postal carriages on every train.

This worked well in standard simutrans, and with only a smaller number of towns.  The network only ever needed to have only one route between any two points as this kept things simpler, and transport time didn't really matter.  I'd have a good idea where each town was, and with my naming system if I had a problem with too many passengers somewhere I'd find it quite easy to know where they were trying to go, and which route they were using and would need upgrading.  If I saw 400 passengers trying to get from Appinghall station to Appinghall a3 I'd know to add more buses to the Appinghall a bus line.  Now I'm running experimental and larger maps with 50 or more towns, and finding that its getting more complicated, and my system is under stress.

With transport times mattering so much, I start to build multiple links between locations.  A bus stop may now be on several local routes, and so I might name my stop Appinghall a4 b2 because its on both the a and b routes.  Then I start building bus routes from one train station to the station in an adjoining town, with further difficulties for my naming sysytem.  I'll name the line for the two towns it joins, and leave the stops on this line with whatever names I'd given them previously, or whatever the game gives them.

With larger number of towns, simply naming the line after the first and last town isn't so useful as I don't have in my head where every town is like I used to with a small number of towns.

With convoy spacing, and overcrowding pressures in pak Britain exp I've gone away from mixing mail and passenger traffic on the same line.  I haven't done much work yet on setting up a separate mail network, and have thought of setting up a separate player to run a mail network, but haven't tried it yet.

And how do people like to identify areas of the network that need expansion?  Currently I rely mostly on a combination of visual inspection to spot coverage gaps, and responding to end of month messages for stations that are over capacity.  In the past I've sorted station and city lists to look for stations with high passenger numbers and cities with slow growth to find problems, but find that station waiting tends to only show major problems, and city growth rates are relatively inconsistent.


Standard was becoming too simplistic for my likings and Experimental's encouragement of many transfer stops with lines criss-crossing all over a city and all over the map was what first attracted me to it. 

I know most people name their lines by a particular convention, but I never got into the habit. I'll sometimes do it for some lines, for example, two lines that share a substantial portion of their route and then branch away from each other when the population density becomes less. I find that it makes it easier to compare and coordinate the two. But most of my lines remain the default name with an occasional suffix to tell me its mail or some freight. Likewise, I'll very rarely change the name of a stop from the default.
I check for problems in stations with the status bars above the station name. Of course, the solutions are not always straight forward. Sometimes all it needs is an increase in capacity, other times a line might need more vehicles, or there could be a problem with a line, or even a whole new line needs to be created, etc. But if the solution was always presented to you, the game would be no fun.

Over capacity lines are also usually found out by the stations they service being over capacity.

The thing I find frustrating is if you have many passengers/goods waiting at a station then you can easily see where they all want to go. But often it is a pain to find where this station actually is unless you remember its location. I would like to see the little 'go to' triangles in the stop and vehicle info box. I know that you can click on the details button, scroll through the list of directly connected stops and do it that way. But with a major transfer hub with many, many connected stops, this can be a time consuming and very frustrating.

Also, what I think would be fantastic, is in the stop window the ability to show what passengers/goods are waiting for what line. Weather that is the stops people are wanting to go to followed by the line, or a more concise list of passengers grouped just by the line they are waiting for.

Again, this would make life very easy if there was a button that you could click that would open the 'list of lines' to that line, like there already is within the vehicle box and the station details box.

I know that there are plenty of other ways to get information about your network, so I'd be interested to hear how other people go about things.


I suggest that a good place to start in considering how to manage a passenger network in Simutrans-Experimental is to look at how passenger networks are managed in real life: towns usually have much more than one 'bus stop, with many 'bus routes, most of them (except in very large towns) going to neighbouring towns and villages.
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Michael Hauber

In real life I can learn where most of the more than a thousand significant locations on the Queensland railway map are while working for the railway over the years.  Implementation of a new service takes months of planning involving maybe dozens of different staff.  In the game I'm finding it gets increasingly confusing when trying to keep track of 50 or so towns and how they are connected, and I plan a new service over a period of a minute or three.


Have you tried using the new "network" map (brought in from Standard) to give you a diagrammatic overview of your various networks? The idea of Simutrans-Experimental is that it is a slow paced game in any event - time will run more slowly in the next version of Pak128.Britain-Ex (0.9.0), although one can of course fast-forward it if not playing online.
Download Simutrans-Extended.

Want to help with development? See here for things to do for coding, and here for information on how to make graphics/objects.

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In Experimental what I like to do is run multiple companies, which mostly don't compete, but you would have different companies focusing on different regions or industries.  So, you get one company profitable, move along to the next, and so on.  Different companies can try different strategies which may or may not be appropriate to their locales, &c.  Fun.

My management strategies are similar to yours: most towns have a few bus lines converging on the station, or just a through line that stops at one or two stops along the main thoroughfare.  I don't rename the stops so often, and a bus line might look like this in the route list:

App03 Appinghall West

Appinghall route #3 to Appinghall West

As part of my play I like to iterate through the routes and check profitability, and free capacity vs carried, and are there any overcrowded stops.  If free capacity is getting low, maybe time to expand service.  If profitability is bad, time to consider cutting back service, setting wait times, or reconfigure the line.

I have played in some games where I added rail systems within a larger town, or even an inter-city local transit train service between towns that also had mainline service, the re-align bus lines to try and stop either at main station or a "commuter rail" station.

When I have a local rail service in town I tend to go with letter designations for those routes.  Route 3 is a bus, but route C is a tram ...