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Saturday, April 19 2014 @ 05:25 AM EDT

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A Group Will File A Civil Suit Against Metrobus

Cars & TransportationA group called "Veranillo, Defend Your Route" has proposed to collect ten thousand signatures, to establish civil and criminal charges against the MI Bus company, which operates the Metrobus transport system.

Alba Aldeano and Calixto Silgado, spokesmen of the group which has spread to most of the routes in the capital of Panama, said yesterday they will take the problems faced by 750,000 Panamanians every day to court; endless lines, chaos, stress, tardiness and absenteeism.

'It is a scam and it is ridiculous', said Aldeano yesterday.

Similarly, business associations spoke out together about the transportation crisis.

The CoNEP, the APEDE, the Chamber of Commerce, Sindicato de Industriales and the Fedecámaras, said the problem is impacting negatively on the economy.

"We are confident that the necessary adjustments will be made to reduce the disadvantages of public transport, even though the public infrastructure will affect their optimal development during this year."

The director of the Transit Authority (ATTT), Roberto Moreno, said yesterday this week will be critical for the Mi Bus company to correct flaws in the operating system of Metrobus. If not, he said, they will face sanctions of up to $1 million.

But his warning does not seem to change things. On Monday there were still long lines on the main corners of the town center, north and east of the capital, and that's why people were complaining.

'We are tired," said a 50 year old worker, ten days after the old "Red Devil" buses left service.

Meanwhile, yesterday noon, protesting university students blocked one lane of Via Transístmica to protest for better transportation. Riot control officers of the National Police forced them to get off the street. "They are criminalizing protests," claimed the economist John Jované. (Estrella)

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ATTT Measuring Operation Frequencies of the Metro Bus System

Cars & TransportationThe General Secretary of the Transit Authority (ATTT), Nicholas Brea, said the institution has been begun measuring the operating frequency of the Metro Bus units.

According to Brea, the results of this effort can be seen in the buses that are now arriving at an appropriate rate.

Brea said the most important thing should be the frequency of the buses, and not the contract review that has been demanded in recent days.

Brea concluded by saying if they have to deploy all of the buses to provide a better service then they should do it.(La Estrella)

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One Week Of Chaos In Panama City Thanks To Metro Bus

Cars & TransportationThe Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE) has estimated that for every hour of labor that is lost, the economy of the capital city loses about five million dollars.

And the entrance of the Metro Bus into the last nine trunk routes in the city has fueled this concern: a bank official is late, there is no messenger or clerk, the salesman doesn't show up, the teacher is late, and the students can't make it to the classroom.

Within a 20 square kilometer box everyone is fighting for the same thing, a Metro Bus.

And when it does not appear, disorder arises.

100 people want to get on the Metro Bus when only 85 fit.

Or another 25 want to get on a bus that's already full.

The effect on the economy is one detail.

Algis Torres, director of San Miguelito Health, says the chaos caused by the daily struggle over the Metro Bus causes stress, and reduces productivity.

The government says this is not what they wanted for the 750,000 people who use the Metro Bus system, but rather they wanted something that is comfortable, safe and reliable.

The 23 October Movement says there was a lack of planning, and improvisation.

Things were done at the last minute, or with the riders waiting at the bus stops.

Frequency is the main topic of discussion.

"They should have done this with time," says David Ramirez, although the ATTT director, Roberto Moreno, insisted last week that the studies for the design of the routes were made with more than six months notice.

My Bus has decided they will no longer call the people who ride the buses users, but rather clients.

Changing the words does not convince anyone.

"Where are the metrobuses . . . there are none," shouted yesterday about twenty people at the 5th of May Plaza, although there the government and the concessionaire of the new transport system broke up the number of buses arriving at this point from the various trunk routes, in order to neutralize anger.

Ivan Posada, the manager of the Mi Bus company, makes excuses for the failures: "This is a dynamic process. It's not just to replace the buses in the city and that's it. There are other components."

Although the government says the traffic jams because of construction on the infrastructure projects are affecting system operation, the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño says the ATTT should act "vigorously." (Estrella)

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Henriquez Says Transportation System Improvements Are 40% Done

Cars & TransportationAnother issue affecting the Metro Bus system in Panama City is the large number of traffic jams that happen every day.

So said Thursday the Presidency Minister, Roberto Henriquez, who said they are constantly monitoring the whole system to "improve the situation".

"We understand the inconvenience," said the official, referring to complaints from users about the service they are receiving.

He reiterated that the modernization of the transport system is now 40% complete.

"This is a process that is not over," he said. He went on to say they still need to build the bus stops, and to establish more places where people can pay to ride the Metro Bus system as well as the Panama Metro subway system.

The minister said there are things that still need to be completed before the Panamanian people will begin to experience a noticeable change in transport: from noise to silence, from heat to air conditioning, from disorder to order, from insecurity to security.

Henriquez said soon they will be building modular bus stops at the 5th of May Plaza.

These bus stops will be temporary to help users protect themselves from the rain, he said.

He said that in June the payment station in the sector of Marañon will be ready.

He also said "the contract with the Mi Bus company incorporates an obligation for them to bring in smaller buses to work on the narrower trunks."

On TVN News, the minister reiterated his call for people to be patient.

"We share the concern and distress people are experiencing," he added.

But he said the talks are being held and adjustments are being made to improve this situation. "This is not the Metro Bus system yet," he insisted. (Prensa)

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Fuel Prices Will Be Changing On Friday

Cars & TransportationPrices for fuel will be changing in Panama on Friday, 22 March 2013, as confirmed by the Secretary of Energy.

95 octane gas will be dropping by 17 cents per gallon to $4.44

91 octane gas will be dropping by 6 cents per gallon to $4.11

And diesel will be dropping by 9 cents per gallon to $3.83 (TVN)

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National Assembly Rejects Bid To Summon ATTT Director

Cars & TransportationThe deputies of the ruling bloc on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the opposition to cite the director of the Transit Authority, Ventura Vega, to answer questions about chaos in the public transportation system.

While deputies Jose Luis Varela and Elias Castillo described as "aberrant" and "unbelievable" the position taken by the government benches, the president of the Transport Committee of the Assembly, Marcos Gonzalez, announced he would meet with the director of the ATTT at 2:00 pm.

Deputy Varela regretted that the Assembly has fallen to its lowest level in rejecting the official citation, in a clear violation of the constitutional right.

Unlike the National Assembly, in the City Council of the municipal government of Panama City, the representatives of issued a resolution to cite the ATTT director, Ventura Vega, and to revise the concession contract. (TVN)

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Roux says Mi Bus Company Must Take Drastic Measures

Cars & TransportationThe presidential candidate of the Democratic Change (CD), Romulo Roux said the company Mi Bus must comply with what is stipulated in the contract to address the transportation needs of the population.

Roux suggested the company must take drastic measures to solve this problem in the near term.

He said the company Mi Bus pressured the government to get the old "Red Devils" out of the system as soon as possible, and that's what they did.

He said that what happens is the responsibility of the concessionaire and they should provide the service to the users. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: So I guess this is Roux throwing Mi Bus under the bus?

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The Plan To Improve Public Transportation System Fails

Cars & TransportationThe plan announced by the government over the weekend to improve the transportation system Metro Bus, failed.

Yesterday, a crowd of screaming users demanded more buses to get around.

Both the authorities and the company Mi Bus had agreed to deploy vehicles to intermediate points during periods of peak congestion to expedite passenger boarding, and to have additional buses in reserve as a contingency.

But the reality was that this strategy did not work in areas such as the 5 de Mayo Plaza, Albrook, San Miguelito, and the areas to the East of the capital.

For David Ramirez, coordinator of the Bus Riders Movement of 23 October, said what has been happening since Friday is "horrible".

"The logistics has not been working and I have my reservations about this company's experience in the management of mass transit. You can not cover the sun with your hand, and this is a problem that must be corrected as soon as possible," he added.

Given the chaos, the excuse presented by the Presidential Minister, Roberto Henriquez, is that the Metro Bus system is not the total solution but a complement to the new Metro subway system, a project from the beginning this administration has been promising would be completed by the end of 2013.

"The transformation of the transport system is now 40% complete," he said.

The company Mi Bus reported there are 1,200 Metro Buses on the streets, as required by the contract they have with the State to provide service to 700,000 users in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Transit Authority said it will continue to take steps to improve the system. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This whole story about the Metro Bus system has been dominating the local news for the past several days.

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Changes To Public Transportation System Only 40% Complete

Cars & TransportationAlthough the Metro Bus system went into effect on nine new trunk routes in Panama City last Friday, the programmed changes to the public transportation system are now about 40% complete, and the remainder will be done when the new Metro Subway system is finished, announced the Minister of the Presidency, Roberto Henriquez.

He said the chaos that happened last Friday, when the Metro Bus system in Panama City was fully implemented for the first time, cannot be compared to the situation on Monday morning when he said "there are still certain bus stops that are still very dense."

Henriquez said they had to improvise on the Veranillo route and send additional Metro Buses to that area, so that users would not feel the void left by the lack of service.

According to the official who appeared on the Telemetro Report morning news program, starting this weekend they began to study the failures that occurred, in conjunction with the Transit Authority, the company Mi Bus, and Sonda. (Panama America)

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"Red Devil" Bus Drivers Meeting With ATTT and Comptroller

Cars & TransportationThe bus drivers of the old "Red Devil" buses from the different routes are now meeting with the Director of the Transit Authority (ATTT) and the Comptroller General of the Republic, Gioconda de Bianchini.

The issue being addressed is the delay of payment of compensation to the bus drivers who have left the public transportation system.

According to the bus drivers, when their documentation passes to the office of the Comptroller there is a delay, which is why many of the bus drivers or owners have been unable to collect.

It was learned that the offices of the ATTT and the Comptroller will be open this weekend on a regular schedule to expedite the payment of compensation to the carriers. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Once again, a problem that could have been avoided if the government had simply cut the checks. Like earlier this week with the protesting firemen. Unnecessary conflict caused by government inefficiency and bureaucracy.

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