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Wednesday, August 20 2014 @ 02:31 PM EDT

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Late Night Roadwork on the Bridge of the Americas

Cars & Transportation The Ministry of Public Works reported that today, Sunday 16 January, they will be working on the underlying cement roadway of the Bridge of the Americas. The work will be conducted on the lanes that go from the capital of Panama City towards the interior of the country, in order to repair damage to the road, according to a press release from the institution. These works will carried out from 9:00 pm to 4:30 am on Monday 17 January, when vehicular traffic over the busy bridge decreases. According to the MOP's schedule, the work also continue on Monday and Tuesday night during the same hours. All work should be completed by the early morning hours of Wednesday the 19th of January. They will be placing road work signs in the areas where the work will be completed so that vehicles can pass over the bridge safely, said the press release. (La Prensa)
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They Will Start Charging Tolls Again on Panama - Colon Highway on Monday

Cars & TransportationStarting next Monday, 17 January 2011, they will begin collecting tolls again on the Alberto Motta Cardoze highway from Panamá to Colón. This measure is being taken after the necessary repairs have been completed to restore full vehicle access to this road. The "old highway" Boyd Roosevelt (Transístmica) was closed due to the damages caused by the heavy rains in December. The Ministry of Public Works explained that the toll will be charged only for light cars, because 18 wheelers still cannot pass over the old road for security reasons. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: They stopped charging tolls on this road back in early December, when mudslides closed the "old road" to Colon and this became the only open road. Now that repairs have been completed and the "old road" becomes and option for light cars, they are going to start charging tolls again to use the highway.

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One Killed, Four Injured by Racing "Red Devil" Buses

Cars & TransportationIrresponsibility leaves one dead and four wounded. Just when they thought they were heading home, five people were run down by an irresponsible driver. It happened yesterday at 1:22 am at the El Parador bus stop in Pedregal, when the 22 year old bus driver Michael Yoyce, who was driving a "Red Devil" bus, ran over 47 year old Mario De León, 20 year old Daysy Castillo, 46 year old Klinio Gómez, a fourth injured person whose name is unknown, and 21 year old Justino Pino Díaz. The latter died while being transferred to JJ Vallarino medical clinic.

They were all about to board the bus being driven by 23 year old Manuel Agrazal. The wounded were left lying in the roadway for several minutes, complaining of the pain of their injuries, until paramedics arrived and transported them by ambulance, because of the lesions in different parts of the body. Both buses belong to Via Espana - Via Tocumen route. Eyewitnesses said the drivers were both speeding and racing one another. At the time of the accident, one of them had no driver's license, and in addition neither of them were old enough to be legally driving this type of bus, because the law requires them to be at least 25 years of age. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: This is exactly the kind of endless bullshit the new Metro Bus system is supposed to do away with. When they say the buses were "racing" on another - they mean that they were leapfrogging from one bus stop to the next with both trying to be the first bus to arrive (in order to make the money from the paying customers). With the new Metro Bus system the drivers will get paid exactly the same amount of money whether the bus is full or empty, so the motivation to "race" is removed. They were both under 25 years of age so neither of them should have been driving at all. And once again, with the new Metro Bus system only qualified and trained drivers will be handling the equipment. So, the "Red Devils" claim yet another life. How many more before the new Metro Bus system can be fully implemented. And that, in my opinion, can't happen fast enough.

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Copa Flight Crew Overcomes In-Flight Emergency (Panama to Argentina)

Cars & TransportationIncident: COPA B737 near Cordoba on Jan 12th 2011, engine shut down in flight, unsafe gear. By Simon Hradecky - A COPA Airlines Boeing 737-700, flight CM-463 (dep Jan 11th) from Panama City (Panama) to Cordoba,CD (Argentina) with 117 passengers, was on approach to Cordoba when the crew reported engine problems requiring them to shut an engine down. The crew subsequently also had to deal with an unsafe gear indication, but managed a safe landing about 30 minutes later. The return flight CM-464 was cancelled.

Editor's Comment: While serving in the US Air Force I spent a whole lot of time flying on different kinds of military aircraft as a crew member, C-130's, RC-135's, and AWACS primarily. There were any number of "in flight emergencies" (IFE) like these. The most memorable was a lightening strike off of the coast of Nicaragua somewhere in a C-130 that shut down three out of four engines, and the long-wire HF antenna detached from the front of the plant and wrapped around the vertical stabilizer. The flight crew managed to get us back to level flight from a dive, and then got two more engines restarted and we made it back home with #2 feathered. There's also a nighttime aerial refueling in an AWACS over the Caribbean somewhere that I still don't like to talk about - the pilot looked like he was 14 and he was shaking like a leaf. Anyway, things happen on airplanes, and fortunately for this flight crew they figured it out. Any landing you can walk away from, best kind.

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MOP Sets Use Schedule For Centennial Bridge

Cars & TransportationThe Centennial Bridge will be open today, Saturday 8 January 2011, from 5:30 am to 9:00 a.m. with traffic heading in to Panama City. Starting at 12:00 noon until 9:00 pm all traffic will flow from Panama City to the West and towards the interior of the country. The Ministry of Public Works reported that the Centennial Bridge will be closed completely on Sunday 9 January to all vehicular traffic, in order to facilitate repair work being done on the access road to the bridge. The bridge will reopen at 12:00 noon on Monday, 10 January 2011, with traffic flowing from the interior of the country towards Panama City, and will remain open until 9:00 pm. The MOP reiterated they are maintaining a restriction on the movements of trucks and heavy equipment - with regards to their use of the Bridge of the Americas. There is a restriction of movement in Morning Hours: 5:30 am to 8:00 am, and another restriction of movement in the afternoon from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. These provisions will remain in effect until further notice. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Monday, 10 January 2011, is a national holiday. This year "Martyr's Day" - 9 January 2011 - falls on a Sunday so the holiday has been pushed to Monday. If you will notice in this article the Centennial Bridge will be reopened on Monday starting at 12:00 noon to help handle the flow of traffic and vehicles that will be returning to the city from the interior and the beaches.

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Woman Threatens Suicide By Jumping Off Of The Bridge of the Americas

Cars & TransportationA 55 year old woman threatened to commit suicide by jumping off of the Bridge of the Americas in protest because her son was arrested by units of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) for an undisclosed case. The incident caused a huge traffic jam on the bridge. The woman got out of a sedan on the bridge with a knife in her hand, saying that if her son was not released she would cut her own throat and also jump off of the bridge. Police officers arrived at the scene, who did everything they could, however the woman got back into her car and drove away. (La Critica)

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New 2011 License Plates Ready for January and February

Cars & TransportationOn Monday January 3, 2011 all municipalities in Panama will have in their respective headquarters the new vehicle license plates for the months of January and February, said Thursday Ricardo Fabrega, the Director of the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority. Fabrega presented the final model of the new plates to the media. It is a simple white tin with a blue line, with the numbers visible. For 2011 there will be no drawings on the plates, which has been the tradition, and they will also have new security measures incorporated. He added that on January 3 they will be signing a resolution for the preparation of the license plates for 2012, in order to avoid delays. (Telemetro)

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Metro Bus Manager Downplays The Resignations Of Some Bus Drivers

Cars & Transportation Iván Posada, the chief executive of the company Mass Transit that is responsible for the operation of the new Metro Bus system, downplayed the resignations of some of their bus drivers, saying everyone is free to decide whether or not they want to work for this brand new system in Panama. Posada said some of these people are bus owners now, or they have outstanding bills to pay (traffic tickets), and those are issues over which the bus company has no influence. He said the Metro Bus system is in it for the long haul, at at the same time he made a call to fill 2,800 vacancies. "There's jobs," he said.

Already 180 drivers have been hired who attended training courses at the INADEH. Posada said those who are interested can go to the company headquarters in the Los Pueblos Mall, can telephone 293-5800, access their website, or send an email to quierotrabajar@mibus.pa for information on how to register.

Posada praised the conditions of the Metro Bus while minimizing the inconvenience that occurred in Balboa Avenue when a bus shut down. The bus shut down when a security device kicked in, because a door sensor prevented the bus engine from starting. He confirmed that since the Metro Bus system started operating there have been several minor and unimportant incidents. Currently there are 120 buses operating on routes that use the Southern Corridor. More buses will be arriving on 9 January 2011. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: The new buses can carry about 80 passengers each - some 30 sitting and about 50 standing. They are designed to be able to handle more passengers during "peak" hours, when one bus can carry as many passengers as two of the old "Red Devil" buses. The government of Panama is smart to do a slow and orderly phase-in of this new system, and to take the old buses off of the streets one at a time. Within a year or so there won't be any of the old buses running around at all, and every bus in town will be these new Metro Bus units. This is a massive upgrade for the Panamanian mass transportation sector - a change that each of the last three presidents has tried to do and failed. Even if there are a few scraped knees and bloody noses along the way, I feel that overall this is a very good thing indeed. And, it's been a long time coming. But you already know what's going to happen, right? Eventually there will be an accident with one of these buses, and people who were standing will get hurt, and Martinelli will he held personally responsible (even if the driver is drunk or something like that.) Some kind of similar incident will occur - the details will vary but the overall scenario will be the same. Mark my words...

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Riders "Like Sardines In A Can" On The New Metro Bus System

Cars & TransportationPanama's new mass transportation system known as the "Metro Bus" started operations yesterday, starting with the routes of the Southern Corridor. The 70 articulated buses became the center of attention for both bus riders and reporters who lined up to buy tickets to ride on the system that promises to do away with the messy "Red Devil" buses, which until recently operated on that route. Those who had doubts saw workers occupying the buses at 4:00 am to start operations. The images showed a Metro bus full of people, to be exact 35 were seated and there were another 50 standing passengers (the maximum capacity of the bus). 'Like sardines in a can, we are traveling on this bus that is supposed to be comfortable, safe and reliable," said Isabel Rodriguez. Those who used the routes of Pedregal and Don Bosco were upset because they had to pay $1.25 to ride standing. Although the operating company Mass Transit Panama took its 70 buses to the streets, demand exceeded supply. Iván Posada, the manager of the operating company, said traveling while standing on a Metro Bus is an advantage, without explaining the virtues to which he referred.

NUISANCE AND DAMAGE - More than 100 people who were waiting to board a bus at the entrance of Pedregal had to wait hours to board just one bus. They had to pay as they boarded, and this delayed the process. The Minister of the Presidency, Jimmy Papadimitriu, said the cash payments will continue until next January, when the new e-card system will be implemented. Several adults traveled while standing, although there are seats that are supposed to be exclusively for them that were occupied by young people. Authorities said the users should reclaim the seats. At 8:15 am, one bus broke down when making its first trip. Papadimitriu, in defending the system, said it is still too early to launch criticisms. (El Siglo)

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130 New Metro Bus Units Start Rolling Today

Cars & Transportation Just a few hours after the first of the new Metro Buses started rolling through the streets of Panama, one of the new buses broke down in front of the Children's Hospital on Ave. Balboa. The apparent mechanical problem caused the bus to stop and remain stopped in front of the hospital, with the passengers waiting for it to continue on its way. Overcoming the problem, whose cause was not specified, the Metro Bus carried on.

Some 120 to 130 buses of the new Metro Bus system started to roll today on four routes using the Southern Corridor. The buses of the Metro Bus system were manufactured by Volvo of Switzerland and the upper part of the bus by the Colombian company Marco Polo. The company responsible for the Metro Bus system said the buses will be able to withstand the streets of Panama, full of drops and holes. (TVN Noticias)

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