Things are on schedule for the February 2014 inauguration of the first Central American light rail system, to be situated in Panama City. The initial railway trains arrived recently from Spain, and there was plenty of fan fare regarding the occasion, celebrated June 11th with a presidential visit. Below are some photos snapped and sent to me by a friend who was in attendance in Panama City.
The following photo was dowloaded from the Metro's official website. The first thought to cross my mind upon viewing it was, "all that wasted space". The trams are pretty, no doubt about it, but hailing from San Francisco and knowing how crowded the BART trains get at rush hour, I can't help but wonder why the seats weren't arranged more in bus-like fashion, allowing for double or triple the conveyor capacity. One of the reasons the Metro is so needed is because of the traffic jams and shortage of buses to move the working population from point to point. Perhaps the wagon in the photo is just for show. According to government PR regarding the Metro, each car supposedly accommodates 200 people, and each train, 600 people. There are four doors and six windows per car. Unless the seating changes, though, seems most of the 200 people will be standing, and packed in like sardines.
Contrast the above photo of the Metro car interior with San Francisco's BART train interiors for the bay area (below). Hopefully there will be a means to expand the seating for Panama City's residents. The need is certainly there. The first line to be completed is the Albrook route.
SF BART car interiors