SimCity Traffic and RCI Tips

In SimCity, many people think the goal with traffic is to get it to be completely free flowing. Realistically, you  just want to avoid gridlock. Heavy traffic is okay, as long as it's still moving. If you're getting a gridlocked city, it's probably due to your layout and the distribution of RCI.  Here's a few tips that Jaime Ramsey came up with to help in avoiding a gridlocked city.

SimCity Traffic and RCI Tips
by SimNation member Jamie Ramsey

1. Mastering Traffic control in SimCity is a matter of helping a Sim complete the following cycle:

2. Commercial zones provide both Work and Shopping meaning you'll get twice the traffic around these zones.

3. Bridges and tunnels can be used as shortcuts from one zone to another. Also, pedestrians will walk along streetcar tracks so they can be used as pedestrian shortcuts even when streetcars aren't being used.

4. Sims take the shortest path. If a dirt road is shortest then they will ignore an avenue.

5. Don't clump your services in one spot. This creates a traffic jam around those buildings and makes them more vulnerable to disasters.

6. If you are going for low wealth only, don't build colleges or universities as this can cause development problems for industry.

7. Low wealth needs low or neutral land value and goes with Tip# 5

8. If you are getting lots of Industrial filler, bulldoze the block of buildings to retry

9. Airports don't need runways to unlock the various service helicopters.

10. The most basic RCI ratio for a balanced city is 2:1:1, which you will need to tweak for various densities.

11. R and C should be close together to encourage walking to complete the Tip#1 cycle. If not, make sure there are dedicated paths connecting the zones for each part of the cycle.

12. A clinic near or in the main industrial area and another in the Residential/Commerical area works best.

13. Police stations need to be in or near the main commercial zones.

14. Educate early to head off problems with health, crime, and fires early. It really pays off.

15. Three types of education buildings work best. Preferred combinations are High school, Elementary, Library if you are going low wealth. (Editor's note: I've gone with only one type of education and had no issues as a result)

16. School buses serve all schools in the city. That means the more buses, the higher chances of bus clumping together.

17. If you have a city with oil under it, you can use the Oil Service Road trick to provide a network of shortcuts for your trade trucks.

18. Don't worry about traffic being colored red unless you have gridlock. As long as the traffic is still moving, you should be ok.

19. Rush hour traffic is the worse

20. For an unlimited supply of water, place your water pumps next to your sewer treatment. Make sure you use the filtration pumps though, to remove the ground pollution from the water.  $440 x $905 in dirt road costs will give you the ideal size for water pumps/sewer filtration. (Editor's note: Per the comment in the comment section below, you don't need the filtration pumps unless you are near some other form of ground pollution. As long as you don't have spillage, there shouldn't be any ground pollution from the sewer treatement plants)

Do you have any other tips that help keep traffic flowing? Leave a comment and we'll add it to the list.


  1. Thanks for the guide. A few comments:

    About point 15: Is there anything to back this up? As far as I am aware, you only need 1 type of education-giving building, the only difference is their desk capacity, whether they have school buses (or the students have to make their own way there), and whether they produce technology or not. In my experience, it is fine to just have a University and nothing else, as long as the Kids can make it to the University in time for the classes, given your transport system that you have in your city (walking, car, or mass transit). As long as they can get there, they get educated. Why would you need 3 types of education building?

    About point 20: You don't need filtration pumps. At all. The only reason you would have to use them is if you allowed your sewage treatment centre to overflow for a long time, causing ground pollution, or if you place your water pumps right next to Industry or other ground-polluting buildings. Neither of these is a good idea. I have played many cities using this 'unlimited water' trick, and I have never put even a single filtration pump in (and I still have 100% clean water). It's a waste of money.

  2. I have to agree with you on #15. I do fine using only community colleges. Hadn't heard that about #20. I usually add the filtration as well, however I do like the ability to place them anywhere I want (next to industry, garbage dumps, etc) which the filtration pumps help with. Thanks for the tips!

  3. $440 x $865 will give you a good fit for the non-filtrated pumps as you can see here

    1. Another config is 450x780 with basic water pumps placed vertically perpendicular to the roadside and just one basic pump at the top.

  4. I am not sure where I learned this, but if you place pumps or water towers near any body of water
    example (lake, river or ocean) it will never run out

  5. Avoid stoplights wherever possible. You can do this by making a terminating road to an avenue a dirt road immediately prior to the juncture. If you must have two main avenues connecting, try to only ever have t-junctions, not 4-way junctions. If it looks like you might end up having a 4-way junction despite your best efforts, use under and over passes to make sure they don't meet and you don't end up with stoplights, then add dirt roads to interconnect the main crossing roads just shy of the crossover point.

  6. In plop points, the road length of the sewage treatment/water pumping square can instead be measured as 55 by 22 (internal only, not counting the road itself)

    If building against the map edge, cut it back by 2 -> so a corner square for this would need 53 by 20 plop points.

  7. In plop points, the road length of the sewage treatment/water pumping square can instead be measured as 55 by 22 (internal only, not counting the road itself)

    If building against the map edge, cut it back by 2 -> so a corner square for this would need 53 by 20 plop points.