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Monday, September 01 2014 @ 09:38 AM EDT

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Metro Buses Now Serving El Chorrillo - Marañón Route

Cars & TransportationStarting from midnight last night, the residents of the neighborhood of El Chorrillo are now being serviced by the new Metro Bus system. The route "El Chorrillo - Marañón" starts at the bus stop in the Amelia Denis de Icaza park, and goes from West to East, on Ave A. as far as 16th Street West, where it turns to the left, on Calle B. From there it takes Ave. Ancón, until reaching the intersection with Calle I, runs until Calle 17 East, where it takes Ave. Nacional, and later Ave. 3 de Noviembre.

From there, it goes back to Calle 17 East, to take Calle 16 which it follows until reaching the intersection with Calle B, towards Calle 25 West, were it returns to the bus stop where it started. The director of the Transportation Authority, Ventura Vega, said "the ATTT be vigilant so that users can adapt as easily as possible." (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: With each passing day there are fewer and fewer of the old "Diablo Rojo" buses running around, and more of the new Metro buses on the streets.

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Gas Prices Going Up On Saturday

Cars & TransportationThe Executive order issued last week which fixed the maximum retail prices for fuel expires on Friday, so on Saturday 15 September 2012, the new higher prices will take effect. 91 octane gasoline will increase 15 cents, to $4.17 per gallon. 95 octane gasoline will increase 16 cents, to $4.58 per gallon. Diesel will increase by 8 cents, to $3.96 per gallon. These prices are for the provinces of Panama and Colon. This will be the fifth consecutive increase in the cost of fuel. These increases were to have taken effect on 8 September, but were suspended because of Executive Decree No. 582 which set price caps until 14 September. The new prices will remain in effect until Friday, 21 September 2012. (Telemetro)

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Martinelli Freezes Fuel Prices To Delay Increase

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - President Ricardo Martinelli authorized the National Energy Secretary to maintain gas prices at their current levels until 14 September 2012, and therefore nullifying the expected increase from this weekend due to international fluctuations in fuel prices. President Ricardo Martinelli issued Executive Decree 582 of 6 September 2012, signed by the Panamanian president and the Minister of the Presidency, Roberto Henriquez, which specifies that prices will remain at their current maximum retail prices. It also orders the Consumer Protection Authority (ACODECO) to ensure compliance with the measure. The National Energy Secretariat has the power to set the maximum retail fuel prices that can be charged at the pumps, and normally they set the new prices every 14 days. The prices rise or fall, depending on the fluctuations in the cost to import fuels, the respective estimated freight costs, and allowing for reasonable marketing margins for each fuel. A press release from the Presidency explains Martinelli took this step to help Panamanians by offsetting the expected fuel price increase for this weekend.

Editor's Comment: Apparently, Martinelli really didn't want to add rising fuel prices into the mix of the conversation this weekend, considering everything that's going on a the National Assembly. However, there's only so long a measure like this can be kept up. Sooner or later the market has to be allowed to run it's course. The government was artificially keeping fuel prices low for awhile, and they kept it up until it got too expensive.

Copyright 2012 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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New Detour Implemented Today At Intersection of Via Brazil With Via Israel in Panama City

Cars & TransportationStarting at 7:00 am this morning there will be new detour at the intersection of Via Brazil with Via Israel, according to the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) and company Construcción de Centroamérica, S. A. (FCC), through a press release. The detour will begin in the two lanes located in front of the old collection house of the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), located next to Multiplaza, in the direction towards Via Brazil, which will be diverted to the center of the intersection. The two opposing lanes will also be displaced, located on Via Brazil towards Punta Pacifica, in order to maintain two-way traffic.

The Project - This detour will remain about 30 days to facilitate the implementation of the 'guide wall' necessary for the construction of the pile wall and to install storm water pipes in the current work, which starts from the company National Car Rental, located on Via Israel, and runs through the corner of the bridge over the river Matasnillo on Via Brazil. The company responsible for the project announced that while the work is being performed, they would enable a crosswalk in front of the old gas station on Via Brasil. In order to prevent people from traveling through the work area they will install pedestrian safety lines, and markings will remain necessary for the execution of the work and, thus, to orient both drivers and pedestrians. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Planning for the flow of traffic through Panama City while all of these public works projects are being executed is being conducted by the German company Klüstürfügen SA...

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Traffic Problems Will Ease At The End Of 2013

Cars & TransportationPresident Ricardo Martinelli said it is expected that by the end of 2013 some of the projects causing traffic jams in Panama City will be completed. He said when construction finishes on these mega projects currently being built, such as the Line One of the new Panama Metro subway system and the Road Realignment project, we will have a larger city where people and drivers can move more quickly. Martinelli said in this way the quality of life of Panamanians will improve.

He reiterated that the government will apply the law to punish all companies who are committing irregularities, referring to the case of electricity distribution companies in the sector of Western Panama. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: No pain no gain. Traffic is all sorts of screwed up in Panama City right now, and the city feels like one massive construction project. Once the subway system is done about 300,000 people will get off the streets (bus or cars or taxis) and move underground every day. That will help.

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Gas Going Up Again on Saturday (Tank Up Now)

Cars & TransportationAs of this Saturday, 25 August 2012, 95 octane gasoline will rise to $4.43 per gallon, while 91 octane will rise to $4.01 per gallon. Low sulfur diesel will increase 20 cents to $3.88 per gallon. These prices will apply to the provinces of Panama and Colon, and will be in effect until 7 September 2012. (Telemetro)
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Electronic Card Payment Becomes Mandatory On Southern Corridor - 1 September 2012

Cars & TransportationTo expedite traffic on the Southern Corridor starting in September 2012 everyone will be required to use the electronic payment card. Administrators of the National Highway Company have been announcing this measure for months, because it saves time in transit while paying tolls. The goal is to eliminate payments made with cash. In March 2012 only 30% of Southern Corridor users were using the electronic payment cards. The National Highway Company announced the traffic management plan on Tuesday. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Charly called the management office of the Southern Corridor to ask for clarification. This new plan will become effective as of 1 September 2012. Their telephone number is 226-0433, extensions 2319 or 2320. Their office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on Saturdays from 8:00 am until 12:00 noon. You can also reach them via email - siamep@ica.com.mx.

Starting on 1 September 2012 you will be able to pay the tolls on the Southern Corridor using;

  • 1. The "Sur Express" electronic reader placed on your windshild of your vehicle. These are only sold at the Delta gas station located at the Chanis exit. In order to get one you will need a copy of your cédula and a credit card (VISA or MasterCard). You make an initial deposit of $15.00 dollars, and you fill out a form authorizing them to make direct charges to your credit card in order to "recharge" the electronic reader automatically, when your account gets down to a certain level.

  • 2. You can purchase a prepaid card from any toll booth operator anywhere on the route.

Both forms of payment will be in operation starting 1 September 2012. It's important to note that if someone finds themselves in a situation without funds in their electronic Sur Express or prepaid Corredor Sur card, or if they do not possess either, then they will still accept cash payments.

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Increase In New Car Sales Impacting Panama City Traffic Woes

Cars & TransportationTravelling by car through the streets of Panama City could become a mission impossible, especially during "rush hour", because of the increase in the number of vehicles on the road, which coincides with the road realignment project and the construction of the new metro subway system, which have reduced the number of available roadways.

Auto sales in Panama have also increased 7% from the previous year through July. So far this year 27,142 new vehicles of different brands have left the dealerships. It is estimated about 3,870 cars are sold per month on average according to the Automobile Dealers Association of Panama (ADAP).

This increase in the number of cars circulating in Panama City is having a significant direct impact on traffic, which has caused the collapse of road infrastructure, said Halmann Irvin, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Panama (CCIAP).

Halmann said the CCIAP has put forward a proposal based on three points. They suggest that delivery trucks should make their deliveries during non peak hours, because doing it at night makes for a more complicated process. Their plan also envisaged the creation of loading and unloading zones within critical areas, to be developed together with the Mayor of Panama City. Finally, they called for cars that are parked illegally to be immediately towed.

This proposal did not prosper meetings held and attended by representatives of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, the Ministry of Public Works, and representatives of the Union of Industrialists of Panama and the CCIAP.

Meanwhile, the President of the ADAP Ricardo Cuellas said the growth in auto sales is due in large measure to "the important contribution of bank financing and the high levels of employment in the country," and although he did not know the exact amount of money involved in these sales, he estimates it could exceed $ 500 million.

Both Halmann and Cuellas agreed that the projects implemented by the national government such as the construction of the Metro Line One of Panama, the Road Reorganization, and the implementation of the Metro Bus, will help reduce the traffic jams being experienced in Panama City, and today many of the traffic problems are being caused by the construction of these projects. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The most salient point in this article - new auto sales are increasing because unemployment is way down, salaries are up, and people have more money to spend. Sooner or later all of these construction projects will be finished. Then, the next administration will start new ones, such as the Metro Line 2, and whatever else they can think of to spend public money, to make money on the kickbacks from the contracts.

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Pulled Over For Expired Tags in Panama City (Dash Cam Video)

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning I got pulled over by a couple of cops on bicycles in Panama City at a gas station because the tags on my Jeep are expired. They were staked out at an intersection, doing a visual check of cars driving through an intersection where vehicles get backed due to a traffic signal (intersection of Via Argentina and Tumba Muerto, next to the gas station in El Cangrejo.) I pulled into the gas station on the corner to fill up the tank. A bicycle cop rode up next to the passenger side window, pointed out my tags are expired, and asked for my paperwork. I gave it to him, and he told me to pull over to the side and park in the parking lot. At that point I reached up and spun the dash-cam video around to cover the driver's side window and catch the action. I thought he might try to him me up for a bribe in order to get out of the ticket.

The police officer asked for my driver's license, and he asked if I had any outstanding tickets. This confused me a little bit, because at first I didn't understand what he was asking or why. I also wanted to establish my role as the "slightly deaf and not so good Spanish" gringo, in order to get him to speak up (for the video). He said he was going to call my personal ID number in on the radio to be checked in their "pele police" system, to see if I was wanted for anything. I asked him if they don't carry these little handheld "pele police" devices on them anymore (just out of curiosity) and he said they superiors have them, and they call in to do the checks via radio.

At about this time his partner rode up and asked about the expired tags. I told him yup, they are expired, and I don't have the temporary permission to drive around. So, they caught me, had me dead to rights. I just looked at them, and wanted to see if they were going to start playing the "squeeze you for a bribe" game. I also had the dash-cam spun around and was recording the whole exchange. I think the first cop might have spotted the camera at some point, but I'm not sure.

Then the other cop asked me where I work. I told him I'm the owner of a media outlet, a journalist. I played the "Wild Bill" card - saying "remember that Wild Bill guy, I caught him." They asked me if I have a card identifying me as a journalist, and I said no, I am the owner. They said OK, here's your paperwork. Be sure to get your tags updated. And, have a nice day.

Thanks for the warning. As far as I could tell, these guys didn't do anything wrong. The one who was in the wrong was me (expired tags). They let me go with a warning, so thanks. Now I'll get the tags done next week, and that will be that.

This little exercise helped to confirm a couple of things. I didn't know how good the dash-cam video would be in this sort of a situation, and it's great - perfect for a bribery situation. I have it tucked up under the rear view mirror, so I sort of doubt that they saw it, although that's possible. And when I get pulled over and they want to give me a ticket for (whatever), I always just say "OK, write the ticket". I never try to squirm, bullshit my way out of it, indicate I might be willing to pay a bribe, or whatever. I let them do that, if they're going to.

Anyway, here's the dash-cam video of this little exchange, for what it's worth. I suspect they might have let me go because I played the "Wild Bill" card, but who knows. Make sure to keep the license plates on your car up to date or you might get pulled over. Have a great day.

Copyright 2012 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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Government Minister Fabrega Says Government Will Honor Commitments With Bus Drivers

Cars & TransportationGovernment Minister, Ricardo Fabrega said today the bus drivers who are members of the National Transportation Board can feel confident they government will comply with the agreements reached with the former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio Papadimitriu, who resigned. Minister Fabrega, who was Director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, emphasized that the compensation will go ahead as soon as possible to complete the modernization of the public transport system. "The pact was made with the Government, and not with any one individual on a personal basis," he said. Esteban Rodriguez, leader of the CANATRA, had said the sector was in uncertainty because they were unaware if the government would comply with the compensation, and the management of the funds promised by Papadimitriu to pay for exonerated diesel fuel. (TVN)
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