One of the major political themes of Ricardo Martinelli’s election campaign was a brand new mass transportation system for Panama City. Panama’s public transportation system had collapsed and nothing had been done about it. Martinelli said it was time for Panama to have its own subway or metro. He looked at the Dominican Republic for guidance. He even traveled there several times to see with his own eyes how it worked.
Winds of change are blowing over Panama. You can see it blowing everywhere. Transportation is one of them. A big change I might say, is a mass transportation system with a price tag of $1.45 billion dollars.
True to his word Ricardo Martinelli, President of the Republic of Panama, has finally given the Panamanian people a state-of-the-art mass transportation system—the only metro system in Central America.
On August 16, 2011, I went to Fernández de Córdoba Street in the neighborhood of Vista Hermosa and saw first hand that an extensive area of the Panama Metro was under construction. I was appalled at the intensity of the works being performed there. Indeed “the dirt was flying” in that area of Panama City.
You could perceive that Ricardo Martinelli wanted to finish the landmark project by the year 2014 the year his administration would be over. It would the first branch–of a total of three. Future administrations will have to complete the other two lines, one of which will cross the Panama Canal to connect the cities of Arraiján and La Chorrera to Panama City. The third one will connect the city of Chepo and other towns on the eastern part of Panama to the metropolis.
April 5, 2014 was a historic day for our small country. President Ricardo Martinelli officially inaugurated the Panama Metro during an enthusiastic event held in the neighborhood of Los Andes No. 2 at 4:00 p.m. The next day at exactly 9:00 a.m. sharp, the Metro was opened to the public to take free rides and experience the modern features of the new transportation facilities.
Long lines of expectant Panamanian were patiently waiting in line to take their first ride into the 21st century. A distant dream was now a reality. A man with a vision has kept his word. My wife and I were there to be one of the first to ride the train.
To add a drop of good humor, I will include a picture of a pair of dogs who were also waiting line for the train to arrive at the San Miguelito station. What they didn’t know is that pets were not allowed to ride the train. Maybe someday, there will be a special coach for pets. You never know what the future holds. Meanwhile, the dogs were lazily taking their morning nap waiting for the arrival of the train. Close by, thousands of Panamanians nervously counted the minutes before the opening of the gates. It is so exciting to be alive in Panama these days.
Stay tuned for more snapshots of the Panama Metro during the upcoming days. Good Day.