Useful pages on the regulator website
- Main sites: www.elmetrodepanama.com, www.mibus.com.pa, www.transito.gob.pa
- Published list of current applicable laws and decrees: www.elmetrodepanama.com/transparencia-3, www.mibus.com.pa/transparencia, www.transito.gob.pa/transparencia
- Héctor Ortega: General Director of Metro de Panamá, SA
- Luis Campana García: President and General Manager of Transporte Masivo de Panamá, SA
- Miguel Martínez: General Director, Autoridad de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre
Public transport in Panama is divided into the metro and bus systems. They are operated by two government-owned companies: Transporte Masivo de Panamá, SA (TMP), which is responsible for the public bus system; and Metro de Panamá, SA (MPSA), which is responsible for the Panama City Metro. In addition, taxi services operate under a concession from the government. Companies providing online platforms for transport services must register with the Autoridad de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre (ATTT) and comply with the requirements of Executive Decree 331 of 31 October 2017.
TMP was originally privately owned but later, as provided by Law No. 109 of 25 November 2015, it was constituted as a corporation wholly owned by the government of Panama. It is responsible for the bus transport system in the cities of Panama and San Miguelito.
MPSA is responsible for the construction, supply, equipment, operation and maintenance of the metro system.
Both TMP and MPSA engage in public contracts awarded to contractors for the purchase of goods and services required for its operations in accordance with the Procurement Law.
Reporting and disclosure obligations
Companies that operate online platforms for the provision of transport services are required to publish all fares on their websites and on the mobile applications used by end users. Their platforms are required to provide users with confirmation of the services contracted, estimated prices and the ability to accept or reject the services. The company is also responsible for having a list of all drivers and vehicles that are affiliated to it.
Monetary sanctions and recent behaviour
Both Panama City Metro and Panama City Bus have enacted guidelines for users of their services. Sanctions for violation of the applicable statutes range from fines to expulsion from the metro or bus. The Panama City Metro monetary sanctioning regime includes provision for dealing with minor infractions, moderate infractions, serious infractions and very serious infractions. Minor infractions are punished with fines of between US$100 and US$150 and include, but are not limited to, throwing trash, eating within the metro system or bus, using music devices without headphones, distributing publicity, and selling goods and services in trains. Moderate infractions are subject to fines of between US$151 and US$300 and include, but are not limited to, travelling without a valid ticket, using security equipment without just cause, and psychological or verbal assault of metro personnel. Serious infractions are punished with fines of between US$301 and US$700 and include, but are not limited to, endangering fellow passengers, accessing the rails or tunnels, and falsifying a rail ticket. Very serious infractions carry fines of between US$701 and US$3,000 and include, but are not limited to, destroying, altering or modifying any part of the railway, throwing objects at trains, carrying firearms or weapons on a train, and physical assault of metro personnel.
Monetary sanctions in relation to violations in the construction of any of the Panama City Metro lines is regulated by the Procurement Law and the dispositions included in each individual contract awarded to the contractor of a project.
Non-monetary sanctioning powers and behaviour
Online platforms and drivers who are affiliated with these platforms are subject to sanctioning proceedings issued by the ATTT.
Recent and upcoming developments
Major projects have been awarded during the past year by the government, government agencies and state-owned companies, including the construction of a highway to connect Panama City to the countryside, a fourth bridge over the Panama Canal and the third line of the Panama City Metro. These projects seek to connect thousands of residents who commute daily to Panama City for work. The third line of the metro will cross the Panama Canal. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has executed an agreement to finance the construction of this new metro line.
Panama’s National Assembly recently enacted Law 93 of 19 September 2019 on Public Private Partnerships (the PPP Law). The PPP Law seeks to bolster infrastructure investment and job creation as well as continuing public infrastructure needs. The PPP Law will permit the state, after a tender process, to enter into agreements with private partners for the design, construction, repair, financing, exploitation, development, operation or maintenance of public infrastructure previously identified by the Cabinet Council.
The Panama City Metro and the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal were initially designed to be executed simultaneously, as the intention was that the third line of the Panama City Metro would cross the Panama Canal via the fourth bridge. The government has announced that it is considering changes to the design of the two awarded projects. These structural changes will require consent from each of the contracting entities and the private contractors that were awarded the contracts.
The companies that provide services via online platforms for transportation have challenged before the Supreme Court of Justice government regulations issued by the ATTT that banned them from receiving cash payments from users. The Supreme Court, in deciding the case, ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, declaring that the decree issued by the ATTT that limited their ability to receive payment in cash form was illegal. The judgment has not been fully complied with and the authorities have requested further clarification from the Supreme Court on certain aspects of the judgment. Until this matter is resolved, these companies cannot accept payments in cash.
Interacting with the regulator
Panama City Metro manages all communications in writing and in Spanish.
Notes for foreign investors
Other regulators it works closely with
Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas
Ministry of Economy and Finance
In charge of providing funding and access to financing to undertake public infrastructure work.
Contraloría General de la República de Panamá
Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic of Panama