Access your Transportation Operations screen by clicking the 'Transportation' link that appears on your HQ page if you are operating within this sphere of activity. This screen displays all your spaceports and passenger routes in operation, and allows you to manage these.
Transportation activities involve the operation of passenger routes between spaceports on different planets. This sphere of activity is similar to the Mercantile sphere, but with just one commodity - passengers. There is no 'trade price' as such, rather the profits of a given transportation route will be based on the demand for such a route and the competition faced by your operation from other Houses.
Aside from the obvious income potential, those Houses selecting Transportation will benefit from an increase in operational range to reflect the specialised technology developed by such Houses. With transportation as a primary sphere, one extra sector of range is added. With transportation as a secondary or tertiary sphere, the effective tech level of the House is boosted by 0.25 or 0.1 respectively, when calculating range. Thus if your House has a tech level of 6.8, you would have a range of 7 even if you operated Transportation only as a secondary sphere.
In order to set up a transportation route a player must have built transportation facilities, known as 'spaceports', on at least two different planets. There are three different sizes of spaceport available:
The actual cost to build any facility is influenced by the distance of the site from your homeworld, the wealth of the planet and the competence of your sphere leader. Maintenance costs are likewise affected by your leader's competence. Also, build and maintenance costs are reduced on poorer planets, and increased on richer worlds, due to differences in labour and materials costs.
Your choice of which size facility to build should be based upon the number of potentially high-profit passenger routes (see below) that you feel you can operate from this particular planet. The larger facilities are more expensive to construct initially and require more time to be completed, but are more economical in the long run. You can build several spaceports on the same planet if you so desire.
To order the construction of a spaceport, go to your Transportation Operations screen from your HQ, and click on the 'plus' sign to the right of the 'Spaceports' heading. This will open up a new row for you to select the planet and facility type, and name your facility to help distinguish it from others of the same type. Submit the new details by clicking on the green tick at the end of this row. Alternatively, you may go to the planet where you want the facility constructed, click on the 'View Facilities' link, and then use the link in the top right hand corner of the screen to build your facility. Once you have ordered the construction of a facility you must wait for it to be completed, which will take some time. To view the facilities you currently have under construction, you can follow links both from the Transportation Operations screen and any planet's 'View Facilities' screen. This will also tell you how many game days remain before completion of the facility.
From your Transportation Operations screen you can also upgrade an existing spaceport to the next largest type, by clicking the 'upgrade' icon which appears to the left of each facility's type. You can also dismantle a facility using the red cross icon, should you have no further use for this facility. In this case, you will recoup around one third of the original cost of building the facility, once dismantling is complete. This operation is only available if the facility is not operating any passenger routes. If you want to remove a facility that has passenger routes in operation, you must first terminate each of the routes.
You can rename a facility simply by clicking on the existing facility name, which will make it amendable. Submit your new name by clicking the green tick that will appear alongside the input box.
Note that if you click on the planet name of any facility, you will be taken to the planet information panel for that planet.
Once you have spaceports in place on two or more planets, you can begin to establish your passenger routes. To create a route between two spaceports, click on the 'plus' sign to the right of the 'Routes in Operation' heading on your Transportation Operations screen. This will open up a new row for you to select the desired details. Note that establishing a passenger transport route costs money - this is in addition to the cost of building the facilities which will operate the route.
You will need to select the 'from' and 'to' spaceports by name, together with the class of service you are offering on the route and the pricing bracket. These two factors will be crucial in determining the amount of income you receive from a given route. The available service classes are as follows:
The available pricing levels are as follows:
When you submit your new route using the green tick icon, you will be prompted to confirm your instruction. Make sure you check the 'Potential Profit' indicator on the confirmation screen. If this is any worse than mediocre you should consider cancelling and trying an alternative route that may be more profitable.
Once you confirm the route it will take one or two game days before it is up and running and you start to see profits.
Calculating Transportation Income Each day, your passenger routes will generate an amount of income based on the success of that route. The exact figure is arrived at after applying the effects of several important factors relating to the demand for the service you are offering. Foremost among these factors is the population of the planets between which the route is operating. The higher the populations of these worlds, the more demand there will be for interplanetary transportation. When selecting planets to build spaceports on, you should bear this in mind as the principal factor.
Apart from population, demand is highly sensitive to the competitiveness of your route versus those of any other Houses operating a similar route between the two planets concerned. Should you be the sole operator, you will find your route in demand no matter how extortionate the pricing. If, however, your route has several competitors offering better value, you will find demand drops off rapidly and your income is reduced accordingly. When viewing your existing transport routes, you will see an indication of how many competing routes are present, and you should use this to guide any adjustments to pricing you may later wish to make in order to remain competitive.
One final factor to bear in mind, is that the more expensive class routes are popular only on wealthy planets. On poorer worlds, few can afford to travel in luxury, regardless of the size of the population on that planet.
When looking at the profitability of your existing passenger routes you must also take into account the cost of maintaining your spaceports (see the list above). All income figures you will see in your treasury are gross figures, with facility maintenance as a separate cost on the treasury screen.
As seen in the Rulebook
Transportation is a more difficult to use sphere than many others because it is not so precise. In the Geological sphere, determining if a planet will be profitable is as simple as looking at the prices of minerals, precious metals and radioactives, and perhaps look at the relative wealth of the planet for maintenance costs. In order to determine if a planet will be profitable for Transportation, however, you have to consider the following factors:
Routes of the proper type between the proper planets will yield the most income. A luxury route between two rich planets, or an economy route between two poor planets will yeild much better profits than a luxury or economy route between a rich and a poor planet.
Every planet has a “Demand” for transportation. This is based on that planet's population. This demand is divided into demand for the 4 different types of routes. How the demand is divided is based on wealth. A Poverty stricken, transient, or poor planet will have most or all of it's demand in Economy routes, with a bit in standard, and very little, if any, in premium and luxury. An average wealth planet will have the most demand in Standard routes, with the rest of the demand going mostly to economy routes, and a bit going to premium (and maybe luxury). Prosperous planets prefer Premium routes, with good demand in both standard and luxury routes, and very little demand in economy routes. Rich planets have a great demand for luxury routes, good demand for premium routes, low demand for standard routes, and minimal, if any, demand for economy routes.
Since all levels of demand are increased by population size, a Rich Huge population planet may have demand for a few economy routes, while a Rich Tiny population planet won't have any demand for economy routes. Population vs. Routes
The following guide is to show how many routes a planet should have. If the planets on both ends of a transport route are running the optimal number of routes, then the transport route will usually give white (50+ solars) income. These are usually forecast as Excellent and Fantastic when creating the route. Planets with a suboptimal number of routes will usually yield transport routes that are good (35 - 50 solars), mediocre (20-35 solars), poor (10 - 20 solars) or terrible ( 0 - 10 solars).
One theory exists that for a newly explored planet (with a transient population) to grow, it must have access to transportation routes. How much additional effect, if any, transportation routes effect planetary population is uncertain.
There is a bug that occurs with projected income when you cancel a transportation route. Often, when a transportation route is canceled, your treasury will project a higher income than before the cancellation. Once new day calculations have been made, the errors are fixed.