Intercity buses, which you can get with the Cities: Skylines Sunset Harbor DLC, are one of the more overlooked modes of public transport in the game.
They allow you to make better use of your most easily accessible outside connection in the game: highways.
Without intercity buses (before you have access to things like trains, cruise ships, or airplanes), tourists and citizens can only go in and out of your city by driving individually in cars. Meanwhile, each intercity bus can transport up to 60 passengers at a time.
To have these buses in your city, you only need to build an intercity bus station, or the larger intercity bus terminal (which has one more bus bay, but is otherwise identical in function).
|Build Cost (₡)
|Intercity Bus Station
|Intercity Bus Terminal
Placing Your Intercity Bus Station
For your intercity bus station to work, it needs two things:
- Access to a highway outside connection
- Access to the rest of your city (for passengers as well as city services)
Unlike with your local buses, you don’t need to assign lines for intercity buses; they will start driving in as long as your station is operating.
#1: Accessing the Highway Connection
You’ll want to give your intercity bus station fairly direct access to your highways. This will avoid having its buses get caught in your local traffic.
A good way to do it is to create a service road near your highway specifically for the station.
You’ll need to use a zonable road type (non-highway) to place the station next to. However, you can connect this to highway ramps so that the buses can exit and reenter the highway smoothly.
There are bus-only highway ramps that you can use for this (so that other vehicles don’t use it as a shortcut to and from the highway.)
This setup will allow the buses to drive in from outside the city, drop off and pick up passengers at the station, and head back out right away.
#2: Access to the Rest of Your City
Now you need a way for tourists and passengers to get to and from the intercity bus station.
Note: City services like police, fire, and garbage also need to be able to get to your station.
The most straightforward way to do this is to simply connect your station’s service road to the rest of your city’s road network. However, it would be even better if you supplement this with local public transport.
The intercity bus station (as well as the terminal) has spaces for local bus stops. Create lines that start at the station and take passengers to other places in your city.
Once you have access to other public transport modes, place a tram stop, metro station, or monorail station near the intercity bus station as well.
When Are Intercity Buses Worth It?
Compared to other intercity travel modes (trains, cruise ships, and airplanes), intercity buses transport a smaller number of people (60) at a time. This makes them seem quite underwhelming.
But here are some situations in which intercity buses work great:
Situation 1: Early to mid-game
Intercity buses are not only unlocked much sooner in terms of population milestone, they’re also cheaper to obtain.
Situation 2: The external railway connection is inconveniently located
The train station is unlocked in the next milestone after intercity buses (Small City), and is only 7,000 more expensive.
So in a lot of cases, it’s not a bad idea to just hold off until you get trains.
However, depending on your map and which tiles of your map you’ve unlocked, the existing railways leading out of your city might not be accessible without spending a large amount of money on tracks.
Situation 3: You have tourist spots near your highway
If you have things like unique buildings (particularly the Match Day Football Stadium) and Parklife park areas close to your highways, an intercity bus station nearby is a great way to get visitors coming in.
Parklife park areas can benefit especially well from this, since the number of visitors will determine whether or not you turn a profit.