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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 12:40 PM EDT

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Panamanians Not Sure About Switch To Cards For Bus Fare

Cars & TransportationThe citizens of Panama don't know how the new system that will be used to pay bus fare on the new Metro Bus is going to work. The use of the electronic swipe cards will take affect on 15 February 2012. Some say they prefer to pay with coins rather than use the card, because they consider the new system to be more complicated. The company Sonda announced that as of February 15 they will start to implement the cards to pay to ride on the Metro Bus. The card will have an initial cost of $2.00 (two dollars), more money can be added to the card above this amount, and it will be transferable, although the intention is for the cards to eventually be individualized so that each person can carry their own, according to Sonda. Schools students will also have to pay using the card, which will be white in color. Bus fare will still be 25 cents for trunk routes, and $1.25 for those routes using the Northern and Southern Corridors, and 10 cents for students. Sonda promised to launch a campaign to guide the population on the use of the card. (TVN)
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Metro Bus Opens New Route Covering San Antonio and Brisas del Golf

Cars & TransportationThe company My Bus, opened today, Thursday 19 January, a new Metreobús route from San Antonio and the Northern Corridor, which also will service the neighborhoods of Cerro Viento and Brisas del Golf. The new route will benefit residents of the area, who previously did not have bus service. The new route will run from the Los Pueblos mall, through the neighborhoods mentioned above, then through the Northern Corridor to the exit at Martin Sosa (Hosannna Church) and will culminate in El Marañon. Like other routes using the Northern and Southern Corridors, the price will be $1.25, facilitating the mobility of users towards the capital city and vice versa. The acting Director of the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT), Roberto Moreno, said on TVN News that faced with the delays in the opening of new routes to be serviced by the new Metro Bus system, they would reduce the paperwork needed to license Metro Bus drivers. He said a decree has to be signed that would allow them to grant a commercial driver's license to those who have completed training courses at the INADEH using simulators for Metro Bus operators. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The Metro Bus system continues to slowly expand and cover more and more parts of the city. With each new route opened, you will see fewer and fewer of the old "Red Devil" buses. The neighborhoods of San Antonio, Cerro Viento, and Brisas del Golf are the very large and expansive residential areas located basically "behind" the new Metro Mall, across the street from the Los Pueblos shopping mall. These buses will shuttle people back and forth from these areas to the heart of the city. Once in town the buses will make a loop around the area of Calidonia before returning via the Northern Corridor. For the uninitiated, all bus routes in Panama run in a circle. If you get on any bus and sit there long enough, you will eventually be returned to the exact point where you got on. Actually - that's not a bad idea - touring Panama City via Metro Bus on the cheap.

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Park Illegally in Panama City And The Cops Will Tow Your Car - No Kidding

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today at noon I was waiting for a friend, we were going to get together for lunch. I noticed an unusual number of traffic cops were out and about, walking up and down the street, and writing parking tickets on cars that were illegally parked. My friend showed up, and we sat down to eat. Then a few minutes later a tow truck showed up. The cops had (miraculously) ordered a car to be towed which was parked on the corner. This is the first time in 25 years I've seen the cops towing away an illegally parked car. I asked the ranking cop on the scene and he quoted the law to me chapter and verse. If an illegally parked car is blocking access to a fire hydrant, a cross walk, or blocking an intersection, then they will order it to be towed away. In the case of this car that's being towed in the video, the police officer explained it was parked in such a manner as to make it more difficult for traffic to make the turn - so therefore they towed it. I asked the cop if this was the first car they had towed today, and he said it was the third or fourth. Anyone who has their car towed away will first have to pay the fine which can range from $50 to $100 dollars. Then they will have to pay for the towing which is about $70 bucks, plus storage if you don't get your car right away. And, all of the Panamanian news outlets are carrying similar stories. The two trucks are out there, so be careful where you park.

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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The Return Of Vehicles To Panama City Will Increase This Afternoon - ATTT

Cars & TransportationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Panama's Ground Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) announced they expect a significant increase in traffic and the number of cars returning from the interior of the country to the capital Panama City, starting at about 4:00 pm this afternoon. Thousands of Panamanians took advantage of the long weekend for Martyr's Day by spending the time out of the city at the beaches or in the interior of the country. And as with every holiday, all of those people will now be returning to their homes today, to be ready to return to work tomorrow morning. So if you're planning to be driving from the interior to Panama City this afternoon plan ahead, take your time, and expect heavy traffic and delays.

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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Traffic Police Might Be Merged With ATTT

Cars & Transportation The director of the Transit Authority and Land Transport (ATTT), Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, spoke this Monday, January 9, about the possible merger of the Directorate of Traffic Operations (DNOT) of the National Police and the entity he manages. According to Fabrega, it is a possibility that is at the level of analysis. The director of the ATTT told La Prensa that he did not want to speculate. However, he admitted the issue is not new and is being considered. "This is not an imminent change," he said.

La Prensa published today in the coming months the police officers who currently work for the DNOT will pass to the ATTT, in a step being taken in an effort to address looming problems with traffic congestion, mainly in the capital of Panama City. The traffic authorities themselves have admitted in the coming months there will be more frequent traffic jams due to public works projects being executed on the road infrastructure.

On the subject, Fabrega said the merger of the DNOT traffic police officers into the ATTT has been a subject of discussion since the creation of this entity, to achieve a better coordination in the regulation of traffic. "Right now this is a subject of analysis," he said. "It might happen tomorrow, or in a couple of months, or it might not happen at all," said Fabrega. Police Sub Commissioner Teofilo Moreno, the National Director of Traffic Operations, has not commented on the issue. (La Prensa)

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Two Lanes Of Via España Closed For Subway Work

Cars & TransportationAs part of the work to relocate utilities to make way for the construction of the new underground subway station at the El Carmen church in Panama City, a partial closure of Via España will be in effect starting today, Saturday, 7 January 2012, until Monday, 9 January 2012, at 6:00 pm. The work consists of placing underground pipes and tubes that will be used to re-position telecommunications and electrical lines, and the installation of a 20-inch water main pipe that will pass in front of the parking lot for the Felix B. Maduro store to relocate the existing line. It was also announced there will be interruptions to the supply of drinking water to some customers in the area. In order to accomplish these tasks the Transit Authority and Land Transport (ATTT) gave permission to close two lanes of Via España from the McDonald's restaurant (at the corner of Via Veneto) to the parking lots of the old building Caja de Ahhoros, including the access to Manuel Espinosa Batista avenue.

Once the work is completed the first two lanes of Via España will be reopened to the public, but then the two lanes from the Banco Delta to the Felix B. Maduro store will be closed in order to continue with the re-positioning of the underground public utilities. During this process Via España will remain partially open with just two lanes for use by vehicles. The work to re-position public utilities began on 26 September 2011 and consisted of the removal of overhead wires, and pipes that were running down the middle of the road underground, in order to position both on the sides of the roadway in public easement areas. After the work is completed, the way will have been cleared for the construction of the station that will contribute to converting the capital city into a friendlier place, with new public and urban spaces for the benefit of all. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Please - if you don't absolutely have to use Via España - then don't. The roadway is getting more and more squeezed with each passing day and the traffic is backing up more and more. Go around. Use Calle 50 to go from the old part of the city out towards San Francisco, and Via Transistmica to go in the other direction. Navigate your way through the side streets in Obarrio and El Cangrejo. But if you can, stay away from Via España whenever possible.

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Traffic To Get Even Worse in January As Construction Starts on New Roadway Projects

Cars & TransportationStarting in the month of January 2012 drivers in Panama City will start feeling even more affects on traffic, due to the start of several new construction projects. Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, the Director of the Transit Authority, explained some of the projects and the challenges for drivers. The first point will be the Bridge of the Americas that will undergo a some intensive maintenance starting on 3 January 2012. For this reason, Fabrega recommended that drivers should use the Centennial Bridge. There will be two years of work on this structure dating from the 60's. Fabrega said there will be two more years of discomfort for drivers caused by the work being done by the government to build the "road realignment" and the construction of the new Metro Line 1 Subway System of Panama. Soon the construction of new bridges and overpasses will begin located at Albrook, Ave. Nacional and Ave. de los Martires, as part of the road realignment project, said Fabrega. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Here's the official promotional video from the Secretary of the Metro, which describes the new subway system being built in Panama City. At this point all you can really do is plan ahead and leave yourself more time to get to your destinations. Traffic is already bad now thanks to the construction on the Metro, and it's only going to get worse.

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Women With Small Children Slept At The Albrook Bus Terminal For Lack Of Transportation

Cars & TransportationThey slept in the bus terminal. More than fifty people had to sleep in the Albrook bus terminal because there were no buses to take them to their destinations. Some of the people who were trying to get to Colon, Veracuz, Arraiján and other points West and in the interior of the country spent hours waiting for the buses to arrive. Finally at two o'clock in the morning mothers slept with their children on the seats in the terminal. While in the area of the parade, the reality was the many people who had to wait for more than five hours for transportation. (Dia a Dia)

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Illegally Parked And Improperly Licensed Vehicles Will Be Towed

Cars & TransportationThe Director of the Transit Police, Teofilo Moreno, said they will start towing cars parked in prohibited areas. Moreno said the intent of this operation - which begins today - is to recover the spaces that have not been authorized for parking, such as sidewalks, traffic islands, and the edges of some streets. He added that during this operation they will take out of circulation those cars that do not have current and valid license plates. The operation includes the avenues and sectors of Ricardo J. Alfaro, Manuel Espinosa Bastista, Costa del Este, San Francisco and Punta Pacífica. Moreno said during these days they will be vigilant to ensure that drivers comply with traffic regulations and speed control in order to avoid unfortunate accidents. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: What I don't understand is why don't they do this all the time? Why do they feel the need to make a public announcement that basically says "we're going to start enforcing the law now, so be warned." If you park a car illegally in New York City you can barely count to ten before a municipally owned tow truck comes along to scoop it up. And in order to get your car back you have to pay for the parking ticket, the tow fees, and storage. Once it becomes very expensive for people to park their cars illegally, then they will stop doing it. And what's more, they should sub-contract this out so that whoever is doing the towing is monetarily motivated by getting paid for each tow. Obviously there would be a need for photographic evidence, two person integrity, etc.

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ATTT Will Cancel 9,000 Taxi Permits

Cars & TransportationMore than 14,000 certificates of public transport operation (taxi permits) which were not picked up by their owners will be cancelled by the Land Transit and Transportation Authority according to the Director of this entity Jorge Ricardo Fabrega. According to Fabrega, in the coming days his legal team will draft a resolution to cancel the operating permits, after reviewing their records to determine which of these were not picked up from the ATTT due to problems with outstanding loans or payments or for any other reason. Among the permits that will be cancelled are 9,000 permits for "selective transport" (taxi permits) in the country. Of these 7,000 are for taxis in the province of Panama (Panama City and surrounding areas), and the remainder are distributed in other provinces, Fabrega said.

After the designated period of time to pick up license plates for taxis which ended last 30 September 2011, the ATTT granted a special permission for taxis and buses to allow them to continue to operate on domestic routes so they could pick up their license plates during the month of October, due to a delay in the (manufacture and) issuance of the plates. Meanwhile, the rest of the people who are late, the ATTT gave them an additional period of time to apply for their permits, however they cannot continue to provide service without a current license plate. As of today more than 35,000 carriers have current license plates, he said.

Two Thousand School Buses Without Valid Plates - Among the operating certificates the ATTT will cancel are more than 2,000 permits for small vans and buses used to transport school children. According to Fabrega, the number of school buses seems strange, because in his experience as the Director of the ATTT these are the types of carriers who most fulfill their obligations. This indicates that, according to Fabrega, these are people who are no longer in business.

No More Extensions: After the legal team analyzes the number of license plates that were not picked up, they will be cancelled. For this process, he said, there will be no extension and those who wish will have the option of reassigning their quotas. El Siglo attempted to obtain the opinion of some leading carriers, but the efforts were unsuccessful. (El Siglo)

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