The Panama Metro Moves Forward

One of the biggest urban problems facing Panama City today is the traffic partly caused by an inefficient and insufficient public transportation system. One of President Ricardo Martinelli’s campaign promises was to overhaul the public transportation system. His first step was to announce the studies for a Metro system through Panama City and to create an entity in charge of all things pertaining to the new Metro system.

It is one of Panama’s major infrastructure projects for the coming years and the banner project for President Ricardo Martinelli’s administration. It is a billion dollar project that is intended to significantly improve the quality of life for Panamanians because as the current administration says “It is the people’s turn”.

There are some public transport routes that have between 15,000 to20,000 passengers which warrants a massive transport system such as the metro. The first metro line shall have an extension of 14.5 kilometers and is in its planning stages. The route for the first line of the metro was announced and it is programed to go from Los Andes (on the road to Colon) to Caledonia at Plaza 5 de Mayo and end at the Albrook Terminal. Part of the route will be underground and part of it is planned to be above ground with sixteen stations: five above ground and11 underground. The passenger cars will be conventional metro trains with steel wheels, a maximum capacity of 40,000 passengers per hour, and will consist of 6 cars per train with an estimated total length of 100 meters allowing passengers easy access from one train car to the others. The metro will be highly automated and will run on electricity.

It is clearly a major undertaking and some countries and international organizations have already offered to help finance this project. Countries like Brazil and Taiwan have offered credits and the BID (Interamerican Bank for Development) and CAF (Andean DevelopmentCorporation) have also expressed their support for the financing.

A consortium has already been appointed which will be in charge of advising on the design, and execution of the project: POYRY/CAL, Mayor & Associates and Geoconsult.

The tender of bids is expected to be opened in July 2010 for companies interested in participating in this project. The project is of such scope that the companies interested in participating in the bidding are being pre-qualified in terms of their financial and technical viability for a project of this magnitude. The government hopes to inaugurate the Metro in December 2013.

For more information on Panama:  PanamaQmagazine

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