Panama and Costa Rica Run Counter to Rest of the World

Free parking in Panama and heavy trains running through the streets of the capital of Costa Rica, are examples of some of the strange decisions taken by their governments.

Friday, January 16, 2015


While the rest of the world discourages the use of private cars as a means of transportation, increasing the costs of their use by setting, among other methods, high costs for parking in urban areas, in Panama, whose capital city suffers like any other city from the growing problems of congestion on the roads, the National Assembly recently passed a law that mandates free parking in "commercial parking lots of any kind or public offices where purchases are made, goods acquired or any services received. "

Added to this nonsensical rule, is another recently approved law which prevents below ground space in public parks from being used for the construction of parking lots, as is typical in modern cities.

Beyond the attack on the rights of private property and free trade which this law represents, it is clear how the safety of investments in all types of development are compromised, where the cost of designated parking spaces and the income anticipated from their use are an important part of the calculation of return on investment.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, the government encourages the reuse of old railroad paths which once connected the capital with the Pacific and Caribbean, to make them run passenger trains between different districts of the metropolitan area, which also suffers from severe congestion in traffic due to lack of modernized road infrastructure and steady growth of the number of cars.

More on this topic

Urban Train Project Revived

July 2018

Back on the table once again is discussion of a project to construct Metro Rail for Guatemala City, which would stretch 20 kilometers from the capital and require an investment of close to $800 million.

The Municipality of Guatemala, the National Agency of Partnerships for the Development of Economic Infrastructure (Anadie), Ferrocarriles de Guatemala (Fegua) and Ferrovías signed a cooperation agreement to establish the mechanisms that allow for the Metro Rail transportation system to be put into operation.

Guatemala: Metro Rail to Cost $770 million

October 2016

A feasibility study indicates an estimated cost of $770 million for building a Metro that will loop through 20 kilometers between the North and South of the capital city, a project which will be put out to tender in 2017.

The project, whose feasibility study was commissioned with the Spanish company IDOM Ingeniería y Consultoría, consists of building a light railway which will extend for 20 kilometers and will have 20 stations. The trains will run from South Centra in Villa Nueva, to Centra Norte, within the limits of zones 17 and 18.  

Guatemala: City Rail Proposal Revisited

March 2016

Three years after the first attempt, the government has announced that the railway project estimated at $200 million will be tendered in 2017 under a public-private partnership scheme.

In 2013 the National Agency for Partnerships for Economic Infrastructure Development (ANADIE) had tried to tender the design and construction of an urban passenger train and a railway terminal, however, it never materialized. Now the government of President Jimmy Morales has taken up the project under the same scheme of a public-private partnership, only evaluating the work at $200 million and not $350 million as projected previously. Diario de Centroamerica reported that the initiative will be presented to Congress.

Railway Development Plan in Guatemala

June 2013

Plans are underway for an inter urban railway system for Guatemala City, with an estimated investment of between $65 to $125 million.

Carlos Samayoa, Controller at Ferrocarriles de Guatemala (Fegua), explained that the urban railway is a project that consists of a first section going from Centra Norte, Zone 17, to the Central Station, and a second axis to the south, to Justo Rufino Barrios zona 21, but the idea is to expand it to the municipality of Villa Canales.