Welcome to the Panama Metro

Computer-generated picture depicting a small boy before the Panama Metro sometime in the future when the transportation project is operating. This is how one of the stations will look like. Picture courtesy of Metro de Panamá.

If are a regular reader of Lingua Franca, you probably know that I’ve followed the Panama Metro like a laser beam.  I want to know everything that happens with this landmark public transportation project.  It will be the next big thing in Panama after the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Recently, watching the news, I found out that a real scale model of a subway car was going to be exhibited at the XXI version of EXPOCOMER 2013 organized by the Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama.  EXPOCOMER is the largest commercial fair in Latin America.  More than 36 countries show their products to potential customers for three days.  According to a representative of EXPOCOMER, Panama´s economy was injected with $35 million during the event (hotel reservations, restaurants, taxi fares, shopping, tourist tours, souvenirs sales and so on and so forth and such like) and more than $80 million were generated in sales for same period.  Each passing year the numbers grow like mushrooms in a forest.

At midday on Saturday, April 20, 2013 I dashed over to EXPOCOMER to see how the Metro car looked like.  The real scale model represented one half of the real size of car, measuring about 9 meters long by 2.7 meters wide.  I was jumping out of my skin to shoot my pictures of this baby.

Before I insert the pictures taken, I would like to include a brief description of this mega-project for your ready reference.


The first subway in Panama will have 19 trains hauling three passenger coaches each with a capacity to transport safely and reliably, initially up to 15,000 passengers per hour in each direction.  The mass transportation system is designed to carry up to 40,000 users per hour in each direction when it’s in full operation. The first of three branches is built on the route with the most demand for public transportation within the metropolis.

The first phase of Metro Line 1 will have 19 trains with a total of 57 cars, with a maximum capacity of 250 people per car, at a rate of 8 persons per square meter.  At full capacity Line 1 of the Panama Metro will have a fleet of 42 trains of 5 cars per train, which will allow the system to meet the transportation demand for that moment.  The first Panama Metro trains will be arriving about June 2013.

The Panama Metro is a mass transportation public project which consists of twelve stations; seven will be underground and five above ground.  The planned route is 14 kilometers long and should be completed in a time frame of about 23 minutes.  The designers of the system claim that there will be a train crossing the route every three minutes carrying a total of 15,000 passengers in each direction, (e.g., North and South).

The mega-project of Line One of the Panama Metro was awarded to Odebrecht of Brazil and Spanish FCC (Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas).  The trains were designed by the prestigious French corporation Alstom, focused on the business of manufacturing trains.

The above-ground or viaduct of the subway initiates at the Los Andes shopping center and concludes at Plaza Agora, where the trains descends into a tunnel until it reaches its destination at the Albrook Grand Terminal.  This raised section is 5.12 kilometers long with five passenger stations in strategic locations with a high flow of users.

The under-ground part of the subway begins from Plaza Agora, continues through Fernández de Córdoba Avenue, Justo Arosemena Avenue, Plaza 5 de Mayo and the DIJ.  This part of the subway is 6.7 kilometers long.  There is an extra stretch of 1.88 kilometers until the infrastructure reaches Albrook Station  where it connects with a main transportation terminal through a special walkway.

The average speed of the subway will be 80 kilometers per hour.  Transportation service will be from 5:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m. every day of the year.  It is estimated that the Panama Metro will begin its operations during the first quarter of 2014.  The project has a total cost of $1.5 billion which is significant for a small country like Panama with limited financial resources.  Work has already begun on feasibility studies for a second line which will be carried out by the next administration.

Passenger Stations of the Panama Metro:

  1.  Los Andes
  2. Pan de Azúcar
  3. San Miguelito
  4. Pueblo Nuevo
  5. Doce de Octubre
  6. Vía Fernández de Córdoba
  7. Vía Argentina
  8. Iglesia del Carmen
  9. Hospital Santo Tomás
  10. Lotería Nacional de Beneficiencia
  11. Plaza 5 de Mayo
  12. Albrook Terminal


Snapshot of the white tent which housed the real scale model of a subway car on exhibition at EXPOCOMER. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the Panama subway exhibited at the XXI version of EXPOCOMER in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the driver’s cabin depicting a small computer screen a several operating buttons. Everything is computerized in this mass public transportation project. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A close up picture of the dashboard of the subway. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A digital indicator of the different stations of the subway. As soon as the train reaches a particular station, a light will show the arrival of the train on the wall. Very easy to find yourself around if you are a newcomer to the subway. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of one of the beautiful guides posing for the camera. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of three enthusiastic guests at the subway posing for the camera. Their friendly smiles is contagious. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of Yours Truly taking a picture of the subway car through a large mirror on one of walls of the structure. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

To end this fascinating tour to the Panama Metro, I thought it would be interesting to insert a YouTube video of the project.  Even though the video is in Spanish, I’m sure you will understand the concept of the transportation project.  Please stay tuned, there will be more pictures about this project in the future.  You can bet on it. Keep your eyes open.  Good Day.


3 thoughts on “Welcome to the Panama Metro”

  1. In the 5 years that President Ricardo Martinelli will have been in office, expenditures and investments in major projects will exceed $15 billion. That is $5.25 billion for the Panama Canal expansion, $2.2 billion for the new metro transportation system and over $6.2 billion in Foreign Direct Investment in mining in Panama where we have the second largest copper reserves in the world. The copper reserves were just readjusted upwards a couple of weeks ago by 27% and gold reserves by 41% at the Cobre Panama project. This is in addition to the huge infrastructure investment in roadway and hydro electric projects expansion across the country.

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