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Saturday, April 19 2014 @ 06:28 PM EDT

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New "Metro Bus" Drivers Receive Training

Cars & TransportationStarting in mid-December, Panama will have a new mass transit system. In anticipation a training plan has been implemented for the men and women who will be operating the equipment of the new Metro Bus system. More than 200 drivers were trained at the National Institute of Vocational Training for Human Development (Inadeh) and were graduated as Metro Bus operators. The introduction of the Metro Bus system will begin on 18 December 2010, starting with the Southern Corridor route. (Telemetro)

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ATTT Studying Installation and Use of Taxi Meters

Cars & TransportationThe general director of the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT), Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, reported that the possible use of meters in taxis in the country is now a matter of discussion and study. In fact, he said they are following the progress of a loaned system that is putting the device into practice. According to Fabrega, this device does an efficient job by monitoring the distance covered and time used for the trip. He further explained that when the driver gets caught in a traffic jam, the revolution of the unit slows down so as not to detract from the passenger.

"Today there are modern methods so that the taxi meter does not become a weapon against the user," Fabrega said on an interview given to Channel 13 Telemetro Report. The director of the ATTT said this would help a large number of taxi users who currently "do not know where one zone ends and another begins," which means that, in the end, the taxi drivers can practically charge "whatever they want." "The taxi meters could help to make the system more orderly," he said. (La Prensa)

Jorge Ricardo Fábrega, ATTT Director

Editor's Comment: Wonderful. One more small step into the 21st Century. The installation of taxi meters would also put an end to "gringo gouging" and taxi drivers who try to rip off ignorant tourists. It would make it very simple. Only get into a taxi that has a meter installed - no meter means the taxi is a pirate. And, only pay what's on the meter - no more and no less. I already know that I'm going to be a huge fan of these meters.

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Gov. Spending $58 Million To Build Enrique A. Jimenez Airport in Colon

Cars & TransportationWith a ceremony to lay the cornerstone, the formal orders to proceed were given to the company MECO for the construction of the Enrique Jimenez airport in the City of Colon. The MECO construction company is responsible for designing and building the Enrique A. Jiménez Airport, which will cost more than $58 million dollars. Over the next two years MECO will be working on the project to extend the runway, to build a new terminal building, control tower, taxiways, and road access to the airport. (Panama America)
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New Direct Flight From Germany to Panama

Cars & TransportationThe more than 800 German citizens living in Panama can now travel directly to their home country, after Condor Airlines launched it's new weekly directly flight with a capacity of 270 passengers. Michael Grau, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Panama, said the number of German residents who want to stay in Panama is tending to increase, as well as interest from companies in Luxembourg, France and Frankfurt. Ricardo Lince Boyd, the CEO of Condor, said the inaugural flight arrived with 80 people and will return with 35. He added that some passengers have other connections, which will continue with Copa Airlines. "We're opening a frontier for the country, Germany is one of the largest countries exporting tourism and we hope that Panama will become a favorite destination," said Boyd. (Panama America)

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Copa Airplane Forced To Make Emergency Landing Due To Thunderstorm

Cars & TransportationA Panamanian Copa airliner made an emergency landing at an airport in Venezuela, due to a thunderstorm. The plane, carrying 150 passengers from Panama to Caracas, was scheduled to land at 9:50 pm at the Maiquetía International Airport in Caracas, but the heavy weather preventing them from reaching their destination. After the fact there were no reported injuries or damage to the airplane. (La Critica)
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Panama Will Spend More Than $1.5 Billion To Ease Traffic Congestion in Panama City

Cars & TransportationThe "rearrangement" of traffic in Panama City, where more than 400,000 cars circulate daily, will cost more than $1.5 billion dollar, said yesterday the Panamanian Minister of Public Works, Federico Suarez. Suarez told PRC Radio the traffic plan would "exceed the figure of $1.5 billion dollars in projects we are going to be building over the next three years." Minister Suarez spoke about the subject at a ceremony to deliver the order to proceed to the Colombian company Conalvías, for the project to expand an important avenue of capital, valued at $21 million dollars, which formally starts the greater plan. The projects include widening streets and building overpasses to ease traffic at intersections, interconnections between the roadways of high fluidity, and the improvement and adjustment of routes. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: The good news is that the government of Panama is going to spend more than $1.5 billion dollars on public works projects to improve the flow of traffic in Panama City, meaning that eventually maybe some of the traffic jams and congestion will be eased. The bad news is that the government of Panama is going to spend more than $1.5 billion dollars on public works projects to improve the flow of traffic in Panama City, meaning that starting from now until they are done building over the next three years, traffic in the city is going to be all screwed by thanks to the construction of these projects, as well as the construction of the new Panama Metro train system. That's it, I'm buying a bike.

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Metro Bus Drivers Will Be Paid $580 Per Month

Cars & Transportation The consortium Panama Mass Transit yesterday presented its final proposal for a base salary for drivers who will operate the new transportation system Metro Bus: $ 580 per month. The proposed $100 increase from the $480 dollars per month originally offered by the consortium in the beginning, was received with surprise and annoyance of the drivers who were invited to the press conference. Dionisio Ortega, the President of the National Transportation Board, announced they would return to consult with their members, they would evaluate the offer and then today they would announce their response.

The drivers are demanding $700 per month. For Ivan Posada, the manager of Mass Transit Panama, the new wage offer came after they made adjustments to the administrative cost structures of the company. But he said the new higher salary will not impact the user fee. By contrast, he said, the drivers would have to increase their levels of productivity and attention. He added that when the drivers work overtime they would be paid extra, as required by law.

For his part, the Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Papadimitriu reported that the Government has been a facilitator between the Consortium and the drivers, and expects the negotiations to conclude next month when the change to the new buses begins. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: School teachers, registered nurses, and other professions that require college degrees make less than $580 dollars per month in the Republic of Panama. If the people who were driving the old "Red Devil" buses don't want to work for that wage, then screw 'em. I'm sure there are other people out there who would be happy to drive a brand new air conditioned bus around the city all day long for that much money in this economy. As far as I know there's nothing out there forcing either the government or the consortium to hire ALL of the old bus drivers. Those who want to work, can. Those who don't can go do something else. Hopefully there will be some kind of a merit system so that good and safe drivers with no problems or violations get raises, better pay, and bonuses, and those bad drivers with infractions and bad performance records are summarily fired.

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Light Plane Crash In Cardenas

Cars & TransportationAn aircraft with tail number HP 1651 crashed about 50 meters from a house in the area of Cardenas, in the reversed area, close to the facilities of the Ministry of Education. Apparently the pilot and mechanic Hugo Cervantes, who is about 36 years old, managed to avoid a disaster with tragic consequences, said Captain Angel Raul Aguilar, the head of communications for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The airplane, a Cessna 210 Centurion with retractable landing gear, took off from the Marcos A. Gelabert airport at Albrook with a flight plan that included a landing on the runway at Calzada Larga and then a subsequent return to Albrook. Upon his return, by his own account, the pilot 'lost control' of the aircraft and crashed into the wooded area surrounding the Metropolitan Park.

After the crash, Cervantes was taken to the emergency room of St. Thomas hospital for treatment. "He left the plane on his own two feet: said aviation authorities who attended the accident area. Investigators of the Accidents and Incidents Unit of the Civil Aviation Authority will conduct their inspections to determine the causes of failure. Unofficially, it was learned that this accident could have been caused by the failure of the single engine due to the loss of oil pressure or overheating. "It's very likely that this is what happened", commented the sources at the site of the accident. The plane went down in the residential area of Cardenas where there are still American families who were once linked to the US Army South or the former Panama Canal Commission. (La Estrella)

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Are Domestic Airlines Refusing To Honor Pensionado Discounts?

Cars & Transportation By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Hi Don, I am writing to ask if you are aware that Air Panama recently adopted a policy to not honer discounts for pensionados whose carnet is classified as "Indefinidamante". Air Panama will honer the discount for pensionados classified as "Permanente" on their carnet. I hold a pensionado carnet and was denied the discount at the Air Panama ticket counter at the David Airport. The clerk told me that I needed a carnet that indicated "Permanente". A friend of mine was denied the discount for the same reason when he tried to book a flight on another day. An inquiry to Air Panama's offices in Panama City validated that policy. The gringos I have checked with all have "Indefinidamante" on their carnet. I am told that Aeroperloas has adopted a similar policy. I have been told by a friend, who checked with her attorney, that the law does not stipulate that the "pensionado" has to be "permanente" to be eligible for the discount. Under a certain age can disqualify you but not the classification on your carnet. This policy can have a dramatic, financial impact on gringo retirees, especially if it is adopted by other companies. Thanks for any attention you give this matter. Tom, Cordillera"

My Response: "Has anyone filed a complaint with ACODECO? If so, send me a copy. I’m not going to talk about it until someone files and official complaint with the government." If any company fails to comply with Panamanian law regarding the pensionado discounts, then it falls to the person who has been refused the discount to file an official complaint with the Panamanian Consumer Protection Agency which goes by the acronym ACODECO. They exist to investigate these types of situations and complaints. If anyone has been denied their pensionado discount by either Air Panama or Aeroperlas, then they should file a complaint and please send a copy to me, and I'll follow it up. Companies are always looking for loopholes and reasons to tell people "no discount for you" and this might just be the latest. And the person who wrote this is correct - there's nothing in the law about "permanent" or "indefinite" status - so that's just a local interpretation which is most likely ill advised, but only if someone complains.

Copyright 2010 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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Ecuadorian airline Tame offers direct flights to Panama

Cars & TransportationQuito. Ecuadorian airline Tame will launch direct flights between Panama and Ecuador in December, as part of its expansion plan in South America, Tame executive president Gustavo Cuesta said on Thursday, Xinhua reported. The company will make its first commercial flight to Panama on Dec. 1.It will have a frequency of six flights per week, three flights from Quito to Panama and the other three from Guayaquil, a port city in southwest Ecuador, to Panama. "Ecuadorians' demand for the destinations in Quito and Guayaquil is high and we think that this offer will meet the demand," Cuesta said. The airline currently performs two charter flights to Panama every seven days. Tame, which began direct flights to the Cuban capital of Havana three months ago, also plans to expand its international routes in the first half of 2011 to Argentina, Chile and Peru. Its present overseas destinations include cities in Colombia, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. "That would be the most immediate we will do regarding international routes," Cuesta said, adding that the airline also plans to expand its fleet. Tame, founded in 1962, has five Embraer planes and four Aribus. It belongs to Ecuador's Armed Forces, but media reports said the airways is expected to become a public company soon.
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