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Wednesday, June 26 2019 @ 06:00 PM UTC

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Bus Owners Complaining About Late Checks For "Red Devil" Buyout

Cars & Transportation The leader of the National Transportation Board Dionel Broce said Friday morning the Government has failed to comply with their agreement, and they have not paid compensation to bus owners who turned in their buses and the routes in Pedregal. After the entry of the Metrobus system and the failure to pay the owners of the "Red Devils" of Pedregal, carriers of El Valle and Santa Librada could refuse to give up their buses, said Broce on TVN. Meanwhile, the bus owners in Pedregal turned over their buses eight days ago and they still have not received their checks from the government, because the Comptroller is delaying everything, Broce said, adding that only about 64 bus owners have been paid and the other 100 are still waiting, whose buses are sitting in a holding yard at Howard. Moreover, Broce said he did not understand why there are so many inspections that remain to be carried out, because the buses will be sold as scrap metal, and what's more it has already been confirmed that they have paid all of their taxes to the municipality and the ATTT, and what's more they have taken photographs of everything. (La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The government of Panama is paying the bus owners $25,000 for each and every "Red Devil" bus that's being taken off of the road. In reality this is a one time "payola" for these guys, in order to buy their agreement and complicity to allow for the Metrobus system to enter into force. We are now in a period of transition, where the Metrobuses and the old "Red Devils" are still rolling on the streets, sometimes side by side. With each passing month there are less and less "Red Devils" on the road, and more and more Metrobuses replacing them. Under the old system the bus owners had the power and ability to shut down the country by declaring a transportation strike, and now that power has been removed. Broce owns God knows how many buses so he's going to be getting a very substantial check from the government, eventually. Once that's done, then he will go away.

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ATTT Will Clamp Down On Driving Schools in Panama

Cars & Transportation In the next 15 days the Land Transit and Transport Authority (ATTT) will adopt a new resolution to regulate driving schools. The institution will require the schools to be established in commercial establishments, the classrooms must have the appropriate traffic signs, and they will check to ensure students complete the required numbers of hours of driving instruction. The new rules are being applied after multiple irregularities the ATTT has detected in driving schools since last year, such as the installation of clandestine facilities, and schools that issue certificates without even teaching classes. According to the director of Road Safety Education, Francisco Alvarez, with this new regulation they will impose new rules. Drivers pay to receive the classes, Alvarez said, but people are are not getting enough practice for lack of time. He added the ideal is a student should receive 12 hours corresponding to the theoretical and 16 hours of vehicle operation. At present this is not happening. Students are only given the lecture on the pretext that they already know how to drive a car.

Open Doors: The ATTT has closed about six schools because they did not meet the the requirements established in Resolution Number 380 of December 2000, that regulates driving schools. Some schools were closed because they operated in secret. In addition, it was determined some of the properly licensed driving schools were facilitating the issuance of certificates by other unlicensed schools and operators, that do not have ATTT certification to dictate driving classes. Currently, the ATTT has certified 29 driving schools in the country. With the entry of the new regulation, the ATTT will allow driving schools six months to conform with the new resolution. Those failing to comply will be sanctioned with fines ranging from five thousand one hundred thousand dollars and the cancellation of the certificate of operation. Alvarez said the ATTT is open to provide permits for those who want to open a school for driver education provided they comply with the rules. For Carlos Vargas, who runs a driving school located in the area of ​​Juan Diaz, the regulations will provide order on the schools not complying with the ATTT requirements. Vargas said taking classes at a driving school will cost between 130 and 150 dollars. (El Siglo)

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ATTT Does Not Know How Many Cars There Are On The Road

Cars & TransportationPanama's Land Transit and Transport Authority (ATTT) can not determine how many official and private vehicles there are in Panama because there were no license plates issued in 2010 and that upset the whole system, said ATTT official Nicolas Brea on the TVN morning news. The lack of plates resulted form a delay in processing the contract so the school in Chapala could make them, something that should have happened in the previous administration (of Martin Torrijos), according to the ATTT. Brea also said the 2011 license plates are being delivered to a total of 24,000 taxis, but no more registrations will be drawn on the 8B system because the "Red Devil" buses are being taken off of the road. The Metro Bus use 8-digit registration numbers and the four numbers between the letters are the license plate number. Starting this year, license plates on official (government owned) vehicles will be renewed each annually. The new plates for taxis come with a high security device to prevent them being stolen and used to steal, said Brea. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Not having the license plate mechanism set up and working was one of the "banana peels" Martin Torrijos' people and the PRD left behind for Martinelli's people - and slip they did. Now, more than two years into Martinelli's administration, they are just now starting to get their act together with regards to license plates and vehicle registrations. Remember, most of the guys from the Cambio Democratico party didn't have any experience in government at all when they took over. The PRD on the other hand ran the country during the 21 years of the military dictatorship, and then during the terms of Ernesto Perez Balladares (1994 - 1999) and Martin Torrijos (2004 - 2009), so relatively speaking they have a lot of experience. Hence, they knew exactly where to toss the banana peels as well...

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ATTT Takes Down List of Bus Owners Who Have Received Payments From Government

Cars & TransportationBased on a recommendation from the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Ground Transportation Authority removed from their website a list of former bus owners who have compensation from the Panamanian government. The ATTT published the list for less than a week. Panama's Anti-Corruption czar, Abigail Benzadón, had recommended the ATTT should publish the names of the bus owners in order to give transparency to the process. According to Benzadón the ATTT told her the removal of the list from their website had the approval of the Ombudsman, because doing so would ensure the safety of the people who have received compensation because they could be subject to theft. The former owners of the "Red Devil" buses are receiving between $25,000 to $75,000 in order to make way for the Metro Bus system. (El Siglo)

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Taxi Meters Have Arrived in Panama - There Will Be Three Months of Tests

Cars & TransportationThe new taxi meters - which have arrived in the country - will be subjected to a three month trial period and then it will be decided whether or not they will be implemented in the taxis in Panama. The director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, was the first to try this device which calculates the cost of a taxi ride based on a rate, the distance traveled, and the time a passenger remains in the vehicle while reaching the destination. Pulsar Technology Systems is the company responsible for providing the "traxímetros," and if implemented the cost to acquire each system will be paid by the taxi owners. Fabrega said with this new tool they hope to eliminate the current practice of drivers who don't want to accept certain trips, as well as making the system once again "selective" meaning that each taxi will take just one fare instead of trying to pick up several passengers with similar destinations. (Telemetro)

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Fernández de Córdoba Will Be Closed (Detour) Due To Subway Station Construction

Cars & TransportationStarting this Wednesday, June 1, drivers will have to deal with a new detour on Fernández de Córdoba, due to the construction of the new subway in Panama City. The modernization of the transport system will cause the closure of four lanes of traffic in the area of Vista Hermosa along Fernandez de Cordoba, near the Pio Pio restaurant, where they will begin the construction of one of the first underground subway stations. It is estimated the construction will take about 12 months, and this closure could have a greater impact on the flow of traffic due to the proximity to the work to the "northern trench" being construction on Via Transístmica. Tomorrow the road will be closed for the first time at 6:00 am, and the consortium in charge of the construction is working on signage to avoid confusion. Meanwhile, personnel from the Land Transit Authority will be in the area to direct traffic. The traffic management plan that will help reduce traffic jams during the construction of the project, provides for the input and output of vehicles via First and Second Street North of Vista Hermosa, until you reach 64th Street West, and then returning to Fernandez de Cordoba (see map). (La Estrella)

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Fabrega: "Do Not Pay The Higher Rate" For Taxis and Buses

Cars & Transportation The 21% increase in the rates being charged by taxis throughout the country is not is not authorized by the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT), as reported yesterday by the director of the institution, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega. According to Fabrega, with the price of gasoline frozen at $3.99 per gallon for 91 octane gas, the government has established a price cap, so taxi drivers should not be charging the higher rates. He added that this provision has been reported to the National Transport Chamber (Canatra). Despite fact that ATTT Resolution Number 258 was published in the Official Gazette on 3 April 2011, which authorized the rate increase for both taxis and buses, taxi drivers must wait until the ATTT sets the new rates that will govern for the next five years. These rates, which will apply to taxis and buses throughout the country, will be announced in June. The ATTT has established fines for those taxi drivers who implement the increases arbitrarily, however, depending on the complaint, they might also have their certificate of operation cancelled.

ATTT WAITING FOR COMPLAINTS: Fabrega called on users to report the taxi drivers who are over charging. The complaint should contain the license plate number of the taxi, the date and time, as well as the route taken. The leader of the "Taxis Ruteteros de Panama", Agustin Prado, said selective sector carriers are not committing any illegality, because the director has not repealed Resolution 258 which authorized the increase in rates. In his view, the 21% increase has not benefited taxi drivers because the price of fuel has risen even higher.

Agreement Established: Yesterday, the director of the ATTT and the Canatra reached an agreement that the old buses and the "Red Devils" will leave the system once the compensation has been paid to the owners. Today, it is expected that the new Metro Buses will begin operations on the Mano de Piedra - Northern Corridor route, after last Saturday the bus drivers in that area prevented the new buses from providing service. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: OK, let me explain what happened. Back in the end of March gas prices started to rise again, and the bus and taxi drivers started to protest. In response the ATTT authorized a 21% rate increase that was supposed to be a temporary fix (for the drivers and bus owners) but when that was announced, the users and passengers started to protest. In response to that the government announced they had frozen the price of 91 octane gas at $3.99 per gallon and diesel at $3.80 per gallon. And, their intent was that the previously announced 21% rate hike would not happen. Well, the standard issue "juega vivo" cab drivers started to charge the higher rates anyway, basically taking advantage of the confusion. In truth and fact the cab drivers are supposed to be charging the same rates they have been charging for years, with no increase whatsoever. So says ATTT Director Fabrega. Now, the price freeze (through a government subsidy) was only for 90 days. Let's see what happens to the price of gas by August. Are you all betterly lesser big time confused not any more now? Glad to be of assistance...

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Two New Metro Bus Routes Open Today

Cars & TransportationThere are now a total of 499 new Metro buses operating in Panama. As of Saturday morning, the Metro Bus system debuts two new routes through the Northern Corridor: Mano de Piedra and El Valle to the Albrook Terminal. On the Northern Corridor the route to Torrijos Carter is already operating with 40 buses, and Santa Librada with 29. To these are added the El Valle with 11 buses and Mano de Piedra with 26. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The government of Panama is doing a slow phase-in of the new buses, and eventually over a period of several years the old "Red Devil" buses will be completely eliminated throughout the entire country.

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Exonerations And Tax Cuts To Keep Fuel Prices Down

Cars & Transportation The government of Panama approved a reduction of 25 cents in taxes for for 91 octane gas and diesel, as well as a price freeze for these products to prevent further increases. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Alberto Vallarino, said the measure will continue for 90 days by freezing the price at $3.99 a gallon for 91 octane gasoline, and $3.80 a gallon for diesel, however, if within 60 days the trend in the price for a barrel of oil keeps rising, there will be a new alternative proposal to be approved by the Legislature. The 25 cent tax on 91 octane gasoline, which accounts for 40% of the fuel tax, and the exemption of the same with respect to both gas and diesel, the state would no longer receive $8 million dollars per month. Vallarino also announced the approval of the installation of a commission to review the minimum wage, which is held every two years. Had the government not adopted these measures, this week diesel would have increased 16 cents and 91 octane gasoline 15 cents. The Chamber of Commerce applauded the decision of the Cabinet Council to evaluate with more time the measures to take with respect to the increasing costs of fuel. "More than 200,000 families have cable television service, and for every Panamanian there exists an average of two cellular telephones, so the Cabinet has pondered this and has sought other alternatives," said Federico Humbert, president of the guild. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: What the...? This is one mixed-up article. Right in the middle of talking about the gas tax cut and price freeze, they introduce the thing about a commission to review the minimum wage. And then that quote at the end about cable tv and cell phones? OK, I'm confused. Anyway, what matters is that the prices for 91 octane gas will be frozen at $3.99 per gallon and diesel at $3.80 per gallon for 90 days, thanks to a tax cut and subsidies. Panama imports 100% of the fuel burned here so there's really little the government can do to control costs. With this move they appear to be betting that the prices will stabilize and start to come back down. If they're right this move will cut the tops off of the price fluctuation crest, for awhile anyway. It's a popular move that will cost the government $24 million in lost tax revenue over three months.

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New Schedule For Centennial Bridge Starting Monday, 11 April 2011

Cars & TransportationStarting Monday, 11 April 2011, the schedule for the use of the Centennial Bridge will be as follows: - From 5:30 am to 9:00 am, two lanes from the interior of the country towards Panama City and one lane leaving Panama City towards the interior. From 9:30 am to 3:30 pm there will be lanes open in both directions. From 4:00 pm to 5:00 am the next day, there will be only one lane open from the interior of the country towards Panama City, and two lanes from Panama City towards the interior. On Sunday, 17 April 2011, there will be lanes open in both directions all day. The Public Works Department also reported that as of Monday 11 April, the passage of heavy equipment will be prohibited over the Bridge of the Americas, and they can only use the Centennial Bridge, after 9:30 am. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: After the mudslides in December 2010 that damaged the access road to the bridge, there have only been two lanes available for traffic and the MOP would mostly open the bridge in either one direction or another. Now it appears they have opened a third lane and are prepared to have two flowing one way and one in the other. So, it looks like no matter what time you want to cross, there will be at least one lane open in the direction you want to go, which is an improvement.

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