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Sunday, September 22 2019 @ 10:01 am EDT

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Rain, Floods, And Traffic Jams In Front Of Metro Mall

Cars & TransportationThe road in front of the Metro Mall remained flooded this afternoon, causing a traffic jam on the road. Besides the large lagoon formed in place, drivers also had to figure out where to go, because this road is in poor condition. Upset drivers decided to wait in order to not damage their cars in the water, but they complained that these traffic jams not only occur when it's raining, but every day. Remember that road crews have been working on the road to Tocumen for more than a week, specifically from the Supermarket 99 of El Faro in Cerro Viento until the KFC in Los Pueblos. However, both tracks from Tocumen to Cerro Viento are in the same condition, making it impossible for drivers 24 hours a day, causing a huge traffic jam. (TVN)

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Users Getting Accustomed To The New Electronic Cards To Pay Metro Bus Fare

Cars & TransportationThe payment of bus fare with electronic cards have been shown to benefit some users who save money on trasnfers, while others continue to suffer. For Julio Rivas, Metrobus availability remains a problem. In his case, sometimes he has to have 25 cents in currency in one hand and the Metro Bus electronic payment card in the other hand, because he doesn't know if he's going to have to take one of the "Red Devils" that remain in service, or one of the new Metro Buses that also service the same area. Every day hundreds of users face this same reality, however, despite the drawbacks, every day more people are using the electronic cards which cost two dollars and then they have to reloaded.

To date, the company Sonda, the financial manager of the Metro Bus payment system, has sold over 70,000 cards, indicating that a large number of users have the new way to pay for the service. In recent days, Sonda said they have achieved more than 1 million transfers, representing a savings of $250,000 dollars in travel for all users of this new system. But while some are speaking of savings, there are routes where users continue to demand better service. (Mi Diario)

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Additional Measures To Help Speed The Flow Of Traffic

Cars & TransportationThe Director of Traffic Operations of the National Police, Jorge Miranda, said next week they will announce additional measures to relieve traffic congestion, such as the reversal of direction of the flow of traffic on some streets in Panama City. He added that operations continue on Avenida Domingo Diaz where a construction project is being executed to expand the roadway, and there are some 25 Traffic Police officers deployed to that area to help speed up the flow of traffic. (Prensa)
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New "Direct" Metro Bus Routes From Downtown to Bus Terminal

Cars & TransportationThe new Metrobus routes that started from this Monday, April 9, will be made permanent, according to the Director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority Juan Pablo Mora. The official said on TVN News, the new routes - Balboa - Vía España - Albrook Direct and Gran Estación - Transístmica - Albrook Direct - will also help to reduce the number of people who concentrate at the 5th of May Plaza. According to the ATTT, the new routes will provide service on weekdays during business hours from 4:30 am to 8:30 am and from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Many people who work in Panama City live in either Arraijan or La Chorrera. So, every day they have to get from the area of Via España (for example) to the Bus Terminal in Albrook, to catch a bus home. These "direct" routes were eliminated with the implementation of the Metro Bus system, and now they are being put back in. So, if you want to get to the bus terminal look for the "Directo" routing on the front of the bus.

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Bus Terminal Packed As Panamanians Head To The Interior For Holy Week

Cars & TransportationHeading for the interior! Despite high fuel prices, hundreds of people mobilized yesterday to different parts of the interior of the country to spend Easter with their loved ones. A sample of this mobilization was what was experienced yesterday at the Albrook bus terminal where large numbers of people, dragging their suitcases or carrying their babies, waited in long lines to get on a bus.

One who got up early was Daisy Munoz, who with her one year old baby and a backpack hanging on her arm, quietly waited her turn to board a bus to take her to Penonomé in Cocle. "I got up early and they are already waiting for me there. The good thing now is to hang out with my people. This date is important for everyone," said Daisy, as her son was getting impatient because the line was delayed an slowly advanced.

Determined and happy: On this tour we spoke to Ida Rosas from Chiriqui, who was carrying a light bag and who was just a few meters from the cashier to pay for her ticket to visit the province where she was born, and to spend time with her family. "Even though I go now and return on Sunday, I am happy to do this trip," she reflected.

The routes of Chiriqui, Veraguas, Cocle, Los Santos and Herrera were congested. The flow of cars and buses over the Centennial Bridge and the Bridge of the Americas increased after lunch, at which time the public employees got off of work. Headed into the country the police have units to control traffic so that drivers do not go at full speed. (Mi Diario)

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Fuel Prices Rising Substantially This Weekend (Tank Up Now)

Cars & TransportationThe National Secretariat of Energy announced this afternoon that the price of a gallon of 95 octane gasoline will increase by 29 cents per gallon on 7 April 2012. Meanwhile, the price of a gallon of 91 octane gasoline will increase 15 cents, according to the official report. The new fuel prices will be in effect from 7 April to 20 April 2012. (Prensa)
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All "Red Devil" Buses Will Be Gone From Panama By 30 June 2012

Cars & TransportationAmid the national malaise over the transport service offered by Metrobus, the system entered a race against time to achieve 100% deployment over the next three months. The Minister of the Presidency Jimmy Papadimitriu said yesterday that "the modernization of transport with the Metro Bus system must close the circle in its entirety on 30 June." To meet the proposed date, Papadimitriu said next week they could resume programming the deployment of the Metro Bus system in the four remaining trunk routes. However, he admitted they are still holding talks with the leaders of the feeder routes to establish the amount of payment to be made for each unit as compensation. The carriers want $50,000 per unit.

About the complaints from users where the Metro Bus has already been deployed but there are not enough buses to meet the demand, the Minister of the Presidency did not rule out authorizing the entry of additional buses "where warranted" but he said the the company My Bus has to "calibrate the schedules" to avoid a shortage of buses during peak hours. Papadimitriu attributed the problem to the buses mostly becoming trapped in traffic jams; and this is the reason behind launching the campaign "Give way" to speed up public transport.

In that sense, Rigoberto Effio, the General Manager of the National Highway Company (ENA), said in the next three weeks they will implement a fast flow system at the start of the Northern Corridor. To achieve this, they change the locations of the toll booths for drivers who use the prepaid cards (which are currently at the outside edges.) with the center four lanes. Those making manual payments will be moved to the outside. "At this time we are making the corresponding investments with the payment systems," said Effio. He said the move will expedite the traffic at the exit of the Northern Corridor. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The first Metro Bus was deployed in Panama City on 26 December 2010. With every passing month there are more and more Metro Buses running around, and fewer of the old "Red Devil" buses. I would propose keeping a handful of those old and colorful buses running as tourist attractions. As long as they were being driven by safe and responsible drivers, pictures from a trip out to the Causeway on a "Red Devil" would make many a tourist's Facebook page. And if there were about 20 buses or so in the official "Red Devil Tourist Fleet" then they could be done up right. Keep the good, trash the bad.

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April 2012 License Plates Now Available At Municipal Offices

Cars & Transportation
Panama 2012 Vehicle License Plates
Panama 2012 Vehicle License Plates
Starting on Monday, 2 April 2012, the Municipality of Panama City will start to deliver the vehicle license plates for the month of April 2012, for a total of 28,039 vehicles. City officials are calling on vehicle owners to come to the collection agencies to their taxes and to pick up their new license plates for this year. In March more than 31,000 vehicles were due for new plates, which were not distributed in their entirety. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: In Panama vehicle owners are supposed to pick up their new license plates every year, however there are many people who don't comply with this requirement, so that's why every time there's article like this one, they always talk about how many people neglected to pick up their new plates.

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"We Deserve Better Service From Metrobus" - Martinelli

Cars & Transportation
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli
Apparently the complaints of Panamanians about the lousy public transportation system have reached the ears of the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli. "The Panamanians - we deserve better service from Metrobus. Put the batteries ..." tweeted Martinelli at about 5:58 pm last night. Martinelli's words are in tune with the many complaints being made by Panamanians against the Colombian company Mi Bus, which operates the Metro Bus system, which is replacing the old and outdated "Red Devil" buses. "Put the batteries", followed by three points, is the way the president lashed out a transport system, which is a centerpiece of his administration, whose motto is "Safe, Comfortable, Reliable."

The Website of the Presidency of the Republic has in its main page a government announcement about the Metro Bus, which it qualifies as "modern, flexible and safe." The Martinelli administration has even paid subsidies to the company so that they would not raise fairs, and so that students can continue to ride for 10 cents. The complaints against the Metro Bus system continue to be mostly about the infrequency of the buses on the routes, the large numbers of people who travel during rush hours and peak times, and how the buses are slow to arrive at the bus stops.

The question remains whether the phrase "Put the batteries" was directed at the Minister of the Presidency, Jimmy Papadimitriu, who is responsible in the executive branch for this new system, who coordinates with Ivan Posada, the manager of My Bus. The Metro Bus initiated functions in the city and San Miguelito in December 2010 in the Corridor routes, and later on the trunk routes. On 15 February 2012 they began using a rechargeable electronic card that costs $2 empty, to pay for bus fare. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Here's an opportunity for a teaching point about the Spanish expression "Pónganse las pilas", used today by president Martinelli. My wife uses this around the house all the time, like when she wants my daughter to generally get a move on, she will just say "... pilas!", which means "batteries." The connotation, obviously, is that you're either moving too slowly or not fast enough, so maybe it's time for a change of batteries, so you can move a little faster. The first part - "Pónganse" is from the verb "poner" meaning "to put" - and in this case the Affirmative Imperative conjugation - and in this context and coming from the President of the Republic, it should be taken as an order (not a request.) Poner is an irregular verb, but it's also one of the most frequently used, so it might be worth your time to study. Use this - Spanish Verb Conjugation - Poner.

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Metro Bus Electronic Payment Cards Handed Out To School Students

Cars & TransportationTen thousand cards were distributed on Friday in some educational establishments of the metropolitan area and San Miguelito to students to use the Metrobus system. In a statement, the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) explained the cards, which are personalized and provided to the students at no cost, correspond to the database of students who used the Metrobus between 27 February and 18 March 2012. For students who did not use the system during that period, the ATTT enabled three service centers located in the Grand National Transport Terminal in Albrook, Plaza Concordia on Via España, and the Office of Road Safety Education in the Los Pueblos Mall. The parents or guardian must go to one of these points after 28 March 2012 to apply for the card, with the report card or identification card of the student. Students can use the electronic cards from 5:00 am until 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday, with a fee of 10 cents on trunk routes and $1.25 in the corridors. (Siglo)

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