Archive for January 11th, 2010
Riding a bus is Panama City is getting so bad, it’s almost like playing Russian roulette. That’s why they are called “Diablos Rojos” (Red Devils). Only yesterday morning, a young man only 21 years old, while racing with another bus, lost control of his bus and turned over. At the time he was carrying 70 passenger on board. Thirty of them are badly injured at local hospitals. Accidents like these are happening every day and people are fed up.
President Ricardo Martinelli is attacking the public transportation problem from two flanks. First, he is ordering brand new buses which will be operated by large transportation companies to take over the obsolete fleet of Diablo Rojos buses currently transiting in Panama City streets. It’s estimated that around 1,500 new buses will by purchased during this year. The first buses should be here sometime in May 2010. This project is known as the Metro Bus. This project is well and good, but it won’t solve the problem altogether. More than 800,000 persons are transported in Panama City to and from work every day. Only buses won’t do the trick. We desperately need a subway or metro as we call it down here.
Last Wednesday, a high spokesman of the Government of Panama gave us the latest information about the subway, scheduled to be completed by 2014.
The first phase of the subway will run North-South; starting from a place called Pan de Azúcar in Los Andes, to the Albrook Bus Terminal. This will be a stretch of approximately 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) with 15 stations. Eleven of these stations will be underground.
According to the spokesman, this is the planned route from Albrook to Los Andes:
- After leaving Albrook, the train’s first stop will be at Curundu where new government offices are planned.
- The third station will be located in Plaza Cinco de Mayo, close to the National Assembly building, followed by El Marañon in Calidonia.
- Another major stop will be the near the Gothic Iglesia del Carmen, where buses will pick up students from the University of Panama located nearby and bring them to this station.
- Other passenger stations along the planned route will be on Via Argentina, Via Brazil, Via Fernandez de Córdoba and Avenida 12 de Octubre.
- There will be a major intersection served by buses and taxis in San Miguelito, near to our house. The last stop will be in Pan de Azúcar at Los Andes.
The subway will have electric trains with steel wheels, and up to six cars, with an estimated maximum capacity of 40,000 passengers an hour. Al the cars will be equipped with air condition and adequate accommodations for people sitting down or standing up. Panama has studied very closely the subway built in the Dominican Republic to implement it here.
Panama will receive international solicitations or bids until June 2010. By August of the same year, the “dirt should start flying”. I can’t wait. It is to be noted that 2014 will be a year of accomplishements. The expansion of the Panama Canal worth about $5.25 billion will be finished, the subway with a price tag of approximately $1.5 billion will be a reality, and new presidential elections will be held. As I’ve said before, Panama is headed towards becoming a First World country, if we don’t lose our compass along the way. Good Day.