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Thursday, June 27 2019 @ 10:01 AM UTC

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Martinelli Said The MiBus Company Will Be Hiring More Buses

Cars & TransportationPanamanian President, Ricardo Martinelli, today said there is a problem with the amount of buses in the Metro Bus System, but he said the MiBus company will be hiring more buses this year.

According to the MiBus company they will be hiring around 200 more buses to facilitate transportation for the citizens of the country.

Martinelli also said the company underestimated the amount of time it would take buses to move through the city, since it is "a city under construction."

Martinelli also criticized the Sonda, which is responsible for distributing prepaid bus cards to travel on the Metro Bus. (Prensa)

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Lack of parts, another issue with the Metro Bus

Cars & TransportationThe company Mi Bus, responsible for the transportation system Metro Bus, not only faces deficiencies in the amount of buses, schedules and operators, they also lack replacement parts for their buses.

Operators, technicians and maintenance personnel of the company, whom requested to stay in anonymity, reported this is one of the constant issues within the company, and it affects the service.

An example of this failure is that for about a month, a container of parts for Mi Bus has been sitting at the National Customs Authority, waiting for the Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) to endorse its entrance, because these parts are exempt from taxes.

Meanwhile, in the deposits of several operation lots of Mi Bus, they lack rearview mirrors, engine belts, brake pads, among other parts.

Another event adding up to this irregularity, is the fact that the operators incur in sabotaging the buses due to their dissatisfaction with the amount of work they have to handle after their colleagues quit or get fired.

The general manager of Mi Bus, Miguel Cardona, explained "there is not a single bus leaving the lot in perfect conditions and maintenance is permanent."

The Director of Maintenance of the company, Jaime Cuadra, stated each bus receives maintenance every 45 days, but the technicians do not tinker with the buses if there is no major failure with them.

For the president of the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects of Panama, Rodrigo Sanchez, supervision is required in this situation, since it has been almost a month and a half after the Metro Bus took over the entire transportation system and there is still no improvement provided to its users.

The ATTT stated they have reported during their inspections that the number of buses in maintenance is the normal amount, but if there would be an irregularity and this could be properly sustained, they recommend to have this reported to the entity to proceed with an investigation.

(La Prensa)

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Government Of Panama To Implement Flex Schedules For Public Employees

Cars & TransportationThe report issued by the Transportation and Communications Committee of the National Assembly regarding the transportation crisis in the city does not target anyone or any company as responsible or the direct causes of this issue. Far from it, it wields two solutions to the long hours that everyone goes through when waiting for a bus: stagger the schedules of the operators and the incorporation of buses through a new dealership.

The document, which arrived last Thursday at the Ministry of the Presidency and was read on Saturday at the National Assembly, proposes the creation of two schedules for the employees of the entities in the Government located in Panama and San Miguelito. One of the schedules starting from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and the other one from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The committee raised the need for this to be in effect from Wednesday May 1 to Wednesday, December 31 of this year, if approved.

The crisis hinders productivity and drives up the cost of the operation of the public transportation system of passengers, according to the report.

This proposal excludes the Panama Canal Authority and requests the Justice Department to join.

In addition, it states that officials who arrive up to 30 minutes late are allowed to compensate the time at the end of their work day.

The answers given by the company Mi Bus (Metro Bus dealership) regarding a questionnaire given to them by the Assembly, point out the lack of units to reinforce critical points such as the east of the city, San Miguelito and Panama Viejo, in Parque Lefevre, explained the president of the Transportation Committee, Marcos Gonzalez.

This week, he announced, a commission of advisers from the Transportation Committee and the Executive will meet to discuss the feasibility of the proposals.

Businessmen have calculated that each hour of tardiness cost up to $180,000. This has been regular since March 15, when the Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) approved the entry of the Metro Bus to nine main routes, the last routes where the Red Devils were still operating.

That day, 700 Red Devils gave way to 300 Metro buses.

(La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Flex scheduling for government employees. Basically, putting them all on one of two schedules, dividing the rush hour in half. Good idea, and in fact it should have been done a long time ago. No matter what, the government of Panama will be working to make the Metro Bus be perceived as a positive thing. Rushing to take over all of the last trunk routes on one day in mid March was a mistake, and they are still trying to recover.

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Metro Fare Will Be Known By December

Cars & TransportationThe Metro fare will be revealed by the authorities by the end of December, stated Agustin Arias, manager of Metro Line One.

"We are conducting the analysis and by the end of the year we will announce the price”, said Arias, who confirmed that the metro will be finished by February 2014.

The company in charge of handling the metro card will be SONDA, he stated. "It makes no sense to hire an independent company when there is already one that is responsible for the Metro Bus," he said.

The manager said they are working on planning the Metro Line 2, which will be 22 kilometers long, with approximately 15 stations and will be extended until the entrance of the South Corridor in Tocumen, throughout the entire Domingo Diaz Avenue.

All of the metro operators will be Panamanian and were trained in Dominican Republic. A flow of 15,000 people per hour will be handled during rush hours.(Cambio Democratico Blog)

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Improvements in the Metro Bus will be seen by December

Cars & TransportationAlthough the Transit Authority highlights some improvements in public transportation, it will not be until December that users will perceive significant improvements in the Metro Bus system, said the President of the Commission of Transportation from the Chamber of Commerce, Jorge Garcia Icaza.

This is because the flaws reported by the users are directly related to the road infrastructure of the city and the lack of bus stops and recharge centers. By the month of December, 5 out of the 22 pay zones that are part of the transportation system Metro Bus will be delivered.

"The solution will not come in the short term, it will take between now and December to finally see significant improvements," said Garcia, and at the same time he stated that the Government, the companies involved and the user are part of the solution.

For Garcia, the number of buses is not the problem, but the average speed of circulation, an aspect that depends on the departure time from the Metro Bus lots, the arrival at the bus stops and the boarding of the users, as well as traffic in the city which is affected by the large number of road works.

In this perspective, one of the immediate alternatives that could alleviate the service deficiencies, and is covered under the contract, is establishing exclusive lanes, as well as increasing the number of police officers and traffic diversions.

Garcia said that according to measurements made by the Transit Authority, buses are leaving their lots at the established intervals of time, but the delay arises on the way from the lot to the bus stop, and the boarding time plus the traffic jams, three aspects that reduce the average speed of the buses from 18 km/h to 9 km/h.

The company Mi Bus also agrees that these improvements will be noticed once the system is fully operational, meaning having more pay zones, bus stops, exclusive lanes, the POS established in the contract and the integration of the Metro Line One. This will also be noticed once the road works are finalized.

According to the estimates made by the company Mi Bus, during the highest rush hour, between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning, 58 thousand users require this service; however, the figure calculated by the Chamber of Commerce is 79 thousand passengers at 5:00 am.

During the last months, the Chamber of Commerce has approached all of the involved parties in the Metro Bus system to fully understand the problem; these meetings have been held with the ministry of Presidency, Roberto Henriquez, the representatives of the company Mi Bus, SONDA and EUPAN, and even the Mayor of Panama.

While they recognize that the Government has been brave in taking the decision of changing the transportation system, which will be optimal in a year once the Metro Line One is integrated, Garcia said the faults are now partly due to the lack of planning from the Government.

The company Mi Bus has taken some measures to correct the faults for which they are being fined daily by the Transit Authority.

However, both agree that there should also be a process of change among the users, as the passengers must be informed regarding how the system operates.

Changes were also made in the North Corridor routes in the area of Calidonia, to go through Mexico Ave. up to the headquarters of the PRD, and then going up through Peru Ave. in order to expedite the movement in that area.

Another measure used is the distribution of routes at bus stops such as the Plaza 5 de Mayo and La Gran Estacion in San Miguelito, to improve the location of users, facilitating the movement around the area and optimizing transfers.

On the other hand, a new distribution plan for the POS and recharge of cards has been applied for users located in areas outside of the route of the Metro Bus system, specifically in the areas of Panama West and Colon.

In addition, Mi Bus informed TVN News that they will implement a new automated machine system at the Albrook terminal at which the users will be able to recharge their cards by themselves. This system will be strategically placed around the terminal, gradually.(TVN News)

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Inspection Of Bus Stops And Lots Of The Metro Bus

Cars & TransportationThe Transportation Commission of the National Assembly will tour the bus stops in order to inspect them at 24 de Diciembre, San Miguelito and 5 de Mayo, as well as the lot of the company Mi Bus, which serves as the starting point and parking lots of the Metro Bus.

Marcos González, president of the Commission, explained that they will verify on site everything related to the service provided by the Metro Bus to the population.

The users complain about the bad service offered by the Metro Bus, as they have to go through a lot in order to be able to finally board them.

Gonzalez said the directives of the company Mi Bus appeared before the Commission to explain the functioning and operation of the Metro Bus; however, they want to verify what is presented in the report.

In the next few days, the members of the Transportation Commission of the Assembly must present a report about the functioning of the Metro Bus to the members of the Assembly.

The company Mi Bus and Sonda have been fined due to non-compliance of their contract and the inefficiency of the public transportation service.

(Critica)

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Transit Authority Fines The SONDA with $ 2,080 Because Of Bus Card Recharge Stations

Cars & TransportationThe Transit Authority last Friday 19 April 2013, fined the National Society Data Processing company (SONDA), which is responsible for the charging of the Metro Bus service, for the sum of $2,080 for failing to comply with the number of outlets and recharge stations for the Bus Cards.

The penalty given to the Metro Bus service is with the Resolución OAL No. 708 of 19 April 2013.

The Transit Authority, in the Resolución OAL, is giving the SONDA 30 days to correct the "failure" of the operation of one thousand charging stations.

Resolución OAL No. 708 of 19 April 2013, was signed by Roberto Moreno, director of the Transit Authority and Nicolás Brea, general secretary of the same entity.

In a note of the entity, Moreno said if the company does not comply with what has been requested, they will be fined daily after the 30 days.

The businessman and political analyst, Juan Carlos Tapia, proposed to fine the SONDA last Thursday until they comply with what was promised in the contract, because there are not enough places to recharge the Bus Card.

He argued saying the company said they would have more than 1000 stations to recharge the Bus Card, when they don't even reach 200 stations.

Tapia also recommended to cut off the Transit Authority in this situation because, supposedly, the director, Moreno, defends the Mi Bus company and not the costumers. (Estrella)

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Transit Authority Fines More Than 45 Drivers For Using Yellow Painted Cars

Cars & TransportationThe Transit Authority started an operation to begin inspecting vehicles that are painted yellow.

On April 12th, 2013, a law went into effect where only taxis and school buses can be painted yellow, regular citizens will be fined.

This operation started yesterday, Sunday 21 April 2013, by the general secretary of the Transit Authority, Nicolás Brea, who said they are fining an approximate of 45 to 48 drivers for having yellow vehicles.

The sanction includes their drivers license being suspended for 3 months, the vehicle being towed away and a $150 fine.

Brea said citizens have respected the decision of the Transit Authority about the use of yellow paint on vehicles and buses.(Prensa)

Related Article:

Only Taxis and Buses Can Be Painted Yellow

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Comptroller Puts The Brakes On Municipal Bus Deal

Cars & TransportationThe filters being applied by the Comptroller General of the Republic of Panama seem to be getting more stringent in recent days. They did not allow the contract signed between the Municipality of Panama City and the private company Interbus to provide transportation services in the capital city to pass.

La Estrella received information indicating the Comptroller of the Republic, Gioconda de Bianchini, has refused to endorse the $250,000 contract to provide 50 free buses for riders in the capital city.

The genesis for the refusal emerged on Monday, 15 April 2013, when the Comptroller warned in a press release they would take all the time necessary to review the contract, due to serious questions about the hiring.

The argument offered by the comptroller was clearly supported: "the numbers don't add up."

The contract between the municipality and the company Interbus was granted for $250,000 and was intended to move 71,520 passengers per day.

According to the contract, the buses would a total of four laps, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, for a total of ten days.

In the end, they would move a total of 71,520 passengers according to a press release issued by the office of the Mayor of Panama City on 5 April 2013.

Doing The Math

In the end, each passenger would cost the city coffers $3.50 per trip.

The first Article of Agreement Number 52 of the Municipality says "the company Interbus S.A., due to a notorious urgency, will be contracted to provide temporary urban transportation services."

The service, under the agreement, will consist of 50 buses with their drivers, fuel and insurance.

These and other details within the contract prompted the Comptroller Gioconda de Bianchini to meet with the Mayor Roxana Mendez and her advisers to explain why she could not endorse the contract.

EXCESSIVE COSTS

According to the president of the Municipal Council, Javier Ortega, "the contract will be stopped immediately if it is true that the bus fare for each passenger is $3.50."

In addition, the politician from the PRD political party said the Mayor has been meeting with the Comptroller's Office and she demanded that the contract be sent to the Municipal Council to know about the contentious points and elements.

More Criticisms

Another who joined into the criticisms over the fare being paid was the attorney Victor Martinez, who said the cost of the ticket would be $3.50 if the contract was approved.

He said it is the responsibility of the company My Bus to provide transportation solutions to users.

For his part, David Ramirez, of the October 23 Movement - an organization born after 18 Panamanians died in the 8B-06 bus fire - says if the Comptroller did not endorse the contract is because the Mayor did not meet the requirements under law.

But he insisted that the company Mi Bus should be providing solutions to bus riders, who have been suffering since 15 March 2013 when the last of the old "Red Devil" buses stopped running.

The Contract Will Be Extended

Another of the questions that was generated on the desks of the Comptroller where they used a magnifying glass when reviewing the contract, which could be extended and would be unsustainable for the Municipality.

Given the above, last week in an article entitled "The State and Mi Bus Measuring Forces," reflected the reactions of the Directors of the company Mi Bus Miguel Cardona and Iván Posada, who rejected the decision of the Mayor to hire the fifty buses.

The spokesman of the October 23 Movement and lawyer Martinez agrees with the company executives in rejecting the Municipality's plans to lease the buses, because he believes it is true that the company Mi Bus is not complying with the contract. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Well, they're right. $250,000 divided by 71,520 passengers comes to (just very slightly under) $3.50 per trip. So yeah, it's a bad deal for the city government. Of course it's also political, because Mayor Roxana Mendez was trying to take advantage of the situation to score some political points, and now the air has been let out of that balloon.

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A Bus Caught Fire In Colón

Cars & TransportationA private bus caught fire due to a mechanical failure near the highway exit of Sector 4 Altos, in Colón.

The driver, Paulino Barria, and passengers who are workers of the Panama Canal Authority, were unharmed. Quick action taken by the "Camisas Rojas" prevented the fire from spreading to another area of the vehicle.

Barria said the bus would not start and suddenly, he heard an explosion when the flames started coming out.

The Traffic Police are located in the area to facilitate traffic and prevent traffic congestion. (Critica)

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