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Panama leads in economic growth and traveling time

The daily slog
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While Panama has led economic growth in Latin America for the last five years, its citizens have not benefitted in terms of urban mobility and spend over two hours a day getting two and from work.

A report  on urban growth prepared by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) on urban growth reveals that Panamanians who use public transport spend 72 minutes moving from their homes to work and another 72 minutes getting home.

That translates into over two hours a day compared to the average in Latin America of 40 minutes each way.

Juan Vargas, the chief economist of the Directorate of Socioeconomic Research of the CAF, said that Panama’s challenge, like its Latin American counterparts, is to improve mobility to take cope with the growth of urban areas.

In Panama, the average journey of a public transport user is 17 kilometers, while in the region it is less than 12 kilometers.

The report highlights the progress that has been made with the construction of Metro Line 1  and plans to build new extensions.

To enhance the development of the urban areas, the CAF suggests promoting the use of mixed zones where the centers of production and business are close to homes.



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Panamanians spend 10 hours per week commuting to work


According to the most recent report prepared by the Development Bank of Latin America - CAF, Panamanians suffer most from the vicissitudes of transit in the region.

The statistics of the so-called Economy and Development Report 2017 estimate that every citizen in Panama spends two hours commuting from home to his workplace. A figure that exceeds in 30 minutes the time spent in other Central American countries. In summary, it represents 10 hours per week in five-day works and 12 hours in 6 days.

Susana Pinilla, representative of CAF, noted that, "Panama, with a population of about 4 million inhabitants, out of which half live in the capital, is a large city that has significant mobility challenges," which translates into consequences for both the citizen and the State.

The situation for many Panamanians is alarming and even more when we bring up what was proposed at the end of 2017 by the Comptroller General’s Office. According to the institution, about 130 traffic incidents are reported daily.

The buzz, the collapse in the roads, the long hours of wait for public transport, the conditions of the roads, the imprudence of some people and the breach of the rules of others, translates in turn into sequels directly proportional to the impossibility of getting better employment, wasted labor and unproductiveness.

Although Panama is the only country in Central America that has Metro service, it is also true that Panamanians are the most dissatisfied with public transportation. In percentage terms, 34% believe that it should improve.

The Panamanian State set, since last year, transport goals with the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These include: reducing the number of deaths due to traffic events in three years, improving urban mobility during the next decade (2027), improving signage, revising Traffic Regulations and conducting permanent awareness campaigns.

However, transit problems are common throughout the continent. According to Juan Fernando Vargas, chief economist of the Office of Socioeconomic Investigations of CA, "39% of Latin Americans commute from their residence to their workplace in public transport, 22% in private transport and 26% on foot, while 90% of commuters in the United States do so by car," he told EFE.


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