The Launch of a Pioneering Rapid Transit System in Panama

April 5, 2014

A newly completed rapid transit system in the Republic of Panama was inaugurated at 5:00 p.m. The Panama Metro, which serves the country’s capital of Panama City and its vicinity, became the first rapid transit system in all of Central America. Ricardo Martinelli, president of Panama, officiated at the dedication ceremony for Line 1 of the Panama Metro. This formal opening of the system took place a little over three years after construction on it had begun.

The Panama Metro was created to help alleviate traffic congestion and provide a viable alternative to motor vehicle travel in Panama City’s metropolitan area. Agustín Arias, chief engineering advisor for the Line 1 project for this system, used an interview with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) to emphasize the hoped-for advantages of this new means of transportation for the region.

“There’s going to be a lot of benefits in terms of pollution because the system is completely electric,” Arias asserted during his interview with AS/COA at the time of the Panama Metro’s official launch. “We expect to also provide significant time savings and better quality and better safety for users of the public transportation system.”

In that interview, Arias also discussed the various logistical challenges involved in designing and building the first line of the Panama Metro. He talked about how he and his team had closely studied the rapid transit systems already in place in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. “Each metro is tailor made,” said Arias. “Panama City is a longitudinal city . . . so it makes it a little bit more complicated to develop a network in Panama.”

On the day after the inaugural festivities for the Panama Metro, the rapid transit system began regular service for passengers starting at 9:00 a.m. During its first week alone, the system exceeded ridership expectations by transporting more than a million people altogether.

At the time of its debut, the north-south Line 1 consisted of 12 stations (seven underground and five elevated) and covered 8.5 miles (13.7 kilometers). Two more stations have since been added to the line, extending its total length to 9.8 miles (15.8 kilometers). Line 2 of the Panama Metro was formally opened on April 25, 2019. This east-west line, along with sharing the Panama Metro’s San Miguelito station with Line 1, encompasses 15 stations and covers 13.1 miles (21 kilometers).

Photo Credit: Panamafly (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at

For more information on the opening of the Panama Metro, please check out

Additional information on this rapid transit system’s stations is available at

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