Guide to Panama’s New Metro

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Panama’s new Metro system is expected to change everything. A brand new, state of the art system running through the heart of the city between two residential areas, the line is expected to be finished in early 2014. At a cost of $1.88 billion the project is hardly small change, with significant disruptions to city life during construction. However, the project is incredibly ambitious for a country the size of Panama, taking in 15 stations equipped with elevators, lifts for the physically impaired, and space for people to congregate.

Panama metroThe 15 stations will be spread across a range of levels, from a surface-level station at Albrook bus terminal to underground and elevated stops along the rest of the line. The majority of Underground stations in the center of the city will be subterranean, to allow the existing transport infrastructure relatively uninterrupted space to expand for the future. Running East-West through the city, the stations begin at Los Andes (a suburb of Panama), passes through the town of San Miguelito, enters the heart of the city at Via Argentina, before running all the way to Albrook mall via 5 De Mayo. This route is the first route of 4, with a minimum of 2 lines already financially committed to. These will nearly all originate in Albrook but bisect the city at different locations, helping to maintain the transport network’s efficiency and break the stranglehold of road transport. Click here to see the metro map

The aim of the Metro is to ease the stranglehold of terrible congestion currently experienced in Panama City, removing people from the informal and dangerous bus network of the “Diablo Rojos” and getting them moving in larger numbers at lower risk than the dilapidated buses currently being replaced by the Metro Bus system. 15.8 kilometers of track will help to centralize the city’s dire public transport like never before, with at least 6.7 kilometers running underground discretely.

Built by the Linea Uno Consortium, including the Spanish company FCC and Brazilian giant Odebrecht, the project was originally intended to launch in December 2013 but delays to construction on the final 5 stops set the project opening date back some months. All 19 trains will have three carriages which are 9 meters long by 2.7 meters wide, making them capacious enough to transport 15,000 passengers per hour. The final number of trains used on the line will see up to 40,000 users per hour jump on board, with a maximum capacity of 250 people per car.

The architecture and profiles of the stations has been widely lauded in Panama and abroad, with critics praising the bold outlines and clean shape of the stations. The Panamanian government is pleased with the line thus far, disregarding the delays and additional cost. With future lines set to reach Tocumen International Airport directly, as well as taking in more of Panama’s suburban districts, the line will serve as the easiest way for Panama City’s 2.2 million annual tourists and 1 million citizens to make their way around.

Line 2, expected to be completed in 2020, will include an additional 20 kilometers of track and will connect Tocumen International airport to the downtown corridor. Line 3 is planned to cross the Panama Canal via a new bridge to be constructed parallel to the existing Bridge of the Americas, which will then link Panama CIty and Chorrerra. The study for Line 3 will be completed in 2014.

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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