The construction of Panama City’s metropolitan subway system is working full speed ahead on a 24/7 basis in a race to cut the inauguration ribbon during the first half of 2014. Enormous efforts are being done to reorganize basic services like water, electricity, cable television and communications. The entire city is upside down and driving is a nightmare. The “tranques” or traffic jams is a daily torture thousands of motorists must endure. You will find them round the clock, anywhere in the metropolitan area.
As a prelude to the inauguration of the new mass transit system, bus routes are being rearranged in the city and the implementation of electronic prepaid cards for both the buses and the future subway. We are already paying our bus fares with prepaid electronic cards. Panama Metro wants to go further and apply NFC technology (short-range wireless communication) which will allow the subway passengers to pay with their mobile phones.
Line 1 (which follows a north-south route) consists of 8.7 miles and will start at Albrook, next to the National Transportation Terminal, the arrival hub for all provincial bus routes to Panama City.
The first seven subway stations of the route Albrook-Los Andes will be underground. The remaining five are elevated approximately 59 feet above ground.
The trains are being built by the Alstom company in Barcelona, Spain. The track’s width is 4.7 feet, which is the standard size for subway systems around the world.
Panama transit authorities have said that the subway transportation service will begin operations with 19 trains with three cars each; then they will add two more cars for a total of five cars.
Initially, the new subway will move approximately 30,000 people per hour, between 5:30 a. m. and 11 p. m., with trips every three or four and a half minutes during peak hours. Pretty impressive if you ask me, considering that now all massive transportation is done with buses in over-crowded highways, thus the pesky “tranques“.
Below are several pictures which I shot yesterday, December 16, 2012, at approximately 08:00 a.m. This is how the construction looks like on this date. Will include progress of the subway system right here on Lingua Franca until its official inauguration date in 2014.