Kotaku spoke to TransitCenter’s Jerome Horne, director of public transit development, who explained why Night City’s subway system just wouldn’t work in a real city. This is not a serious analysis of how exactly Night City works in the game. This is more of a sign that the fictional city was created by game developers rather than city planners.
Horne explains that a city’s transit system should be evaluated on four points. How much does it cost to use, what part of the city does it cover (adding that stations should not be more than a quarter of a mile apart), it should be multi-modal, which means it includes multiple modes of transport and no passengers ever need to make waiting for a trip longer than ten minutes. Cyberpunk actually ticks two of those boxes. Its subway is free (at least for players, NPCs may have to pay) and you can also ride it instantly whenever you want.
As for the other two points. Night City’s transit system is definitely not multi-modal. Horn lists trains, buses, bikeshares and trams, among other things, to make the system truly multimodal. There are only two of them in cyberpunk. It also has far fewer stops than would be required in a real city of this size. A total of 20 stations in a fictional city with over five million NPCs. By comparison, there are four million people in Berlin, but there are 170 metro stations.
Suffice to say, if Night City were real, using public transit in an attempt to reduce your carbon footprint would be a living nightmare. Let’s be honest, using public transport in the real world can be difficult and frustrating at the best of times, even if all four of Horn’s checkboxes are ticked. As with the virtual version of Night City, if it turns out to be an accurate depiction of the future, most of us are likely to stick to cars.