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Saturday, September 20 2014 @ 07:55 AM EDT

Bus Strike This Morning Produced Mixed Results

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning bus owners started a strike, crippling the ability of many regular Panamanians to get to work. Various representatives from the administration of Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli called upon the bus owners to end their strike and to start a dialog process, but at the same time they said they would not bow to pressure or be forced into any kind of a weakened negotiating position. The strike was not universal and in fact there were only a couple of "piqueras" that supported the action. However, the public transportation system in Panama City is already overtaxed, so taking even 30 buses out of circulation can have a crippling effect on the entire system. This morning on the Channel 2 TVN news program they had a telephone line established for people to call in to give their stories about how they were dealing with the strike. Practically all of the callers didn't want to talk about that at all, but rather spent their time on air lambasting the bus owners and literally begging Ricardo Martinelli to do something. (more)

The ATTT Buses: One of the things the government did was to put the fleet of 30 buses purchased under the failed Martin Torrijos "Transmovil" program back onto the streets to move passengers, which had some effect. They also got the Northern and Southern Corridors to open their toll booths and allow everyone to transit with not tolls today, because people who normally take the bus to work were instead driving their cars. In places like Santa Librada and Veranillo service has returned to normal. There was a strong police presence to prevent any kind of conflict between those bus drivers who supported the strike and those who decided to drive anyway.

Demanding Stronger Action: The general will of the people is for the administration of Ricardo Martinelli to take much stronger action against this handful of bus owners who basically have the public transportation system by the balls. If Martinelli does take much more drastic actions, they would be met with resounding applause from all sectors - except the bus drivers of course. But, on every bus there are more than 40 passengers and just one owner or driver, so they are literally outnumbered by definition. The much more "popular" course of action would be to clamp down hard.

Bus Strikes Are Illegal: Under Panamanian law the bus owners literally can't strike legally. They have been granted a concession by the government to provide transportation services. If at any time the refuse to provide that service then the government can cancel their "cupo" (concession), pull the plates off of the bus, and then turn around and give that permission to someone else.

Meeting This Afternoon: The bus owners and drivers will be having a meeting this afternoon at 4:00 pm in their offices in the Albrook Bus Terminal to decide if they will extend the strike for another day, or to call it quits after one day. At this point it has not been decided yet.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Bus Strike This Morning Produced Mixed Results
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 11 2009 @ 02:55 PM EDT

I think that more than 30 buses are offline today. I've been watching Ave. Balboa all day from my office, and I haven't seen a single Diablo Rojo.

What I do see is traffic moving very smoothly. Go figure. I also see quite a few people waiting for taxis.