Metro Line now open with DIRECT access to Tocumen is big step forward.
- By : James Bryson
- Category : Air Travel, Energy/Infrastructure, Human Interest
Few cities in Latin America have a metro system linked to the airport. The Terminal Aérea station of line 5 that serves terminal 1 of the Benito Juárez airport (MEX) in Mexico City is one of the main examples. Some US cities such as San Francisco (SFO), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Washington DC (ADC-IAD) and others also offer the integrated service. Other global cities connect via a direct link to the rail system such as the New York Air Train (JFK) or Tokyo’s Keisei Skyliner (NAR).Metro de Panamá SA has announced the opening of the extension of line 2 with a branch to the Tocumen International Airport (AITSA, PTY) with a terminal station and an intermediate station at ITSE and Inaforh. This means access from the Tocumen airport to the city’s main public transport service network. The easy and fast access to the airport is a competitive advantage of the city.What is the benefit of accessibility to the airport?It is obvious that direct transit links are not only good for the quality of urban life, but also improve regional competitiveness. Being able to land in a city and board a train knowing that you will be in the city center at a fixed time provides peace of mind for residents, tourists, and business people alike. A pleasant and even scenic drive reinforces this experience and makes a powerful first impression that can boost investment.
Landing of the Panama Metro at Tocumen airport
Direct transit links are not only good for the quality of urban life, but also improve regional competitiveness. Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez
Other no less important indicators of the success or otherwise of the investment in the transport service is the number of projected users: the demand. In the first place would be the passengers, also the workers, and the student population (by seasons) of the intermediate station with its neighboring neighborhoods could be added. A second indicator is the travel time and the comparative cost to the city center. A third would be access and connectivity to other regional centers.Is it an option to take the Metro from PTY?: the choice of travel modeParking fees are immediately available for some due to the high cost of charging per hour/day. As a second option is the use of taxi transport services and passenger transport platforms such as Uber, Cabify, etc. For some years the company MiBus has a route that connects the airport with the Corredor Sur station of Metro line 2 by bus at a rate of US$ 0.25. However, due to travel patterns, passengers generally prefer train-to-train transfers rather than switching to other modes of transportation.In a Google Maps review of the current Metro route between the Corredor Sur station on line 2 (current station near the airport) and the Iglesia del Carmen, during rush hour, the trip lasts 48-50 minutes at a cost of USD 0.85 with a frequency of approximately 5 minutes. On the other hand, if the same trip is made by private car, about 22 km, at the same rush hour, with reduced traffic through the southern corridor (toll), about 40 minutes. The same trip can take up to 23 minutes, a reduction in half the time for the same trip in off-peak hours.
Landing of the Panama Metro at Tocumen airport
Tocumen airport is one of the busiest in the region, with 83 international destinations. Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez
Notably, this does not mean that the addition of the Metro will make travel to the city center faster. In each case, a private car trip could be quicker, although this is highly dependent on traffic. But while public transport times are fairly constant, a car ride into the city center can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more. As a result, user preferences vary in terms of cost, time, and travel experience.Transit passengers and local tourismTocumen airport is one of the busiest in the region, with 83 international destinations. According to AITSA’s annual report, during the month of January 2023, 89% of the operation was allocated to the departure and arrival of commercial flights; with -13% compared to 2019, a decrease due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. Of the total amount of passengers, 73% were in transit, that is, some 1,074,513 passengers made a connection in Panama and did not enter the country; a growth of 2.2% compared to January 2019. Depending on the connection time between flights, the easy connectivity with the airport can be an opportunity for the city in terms of tourism. A model that has been used, for example, by the old Istanbul Atatürk airport (ISL) in Turkey,The airport city?In the “Diagnosis and analysis of the area of influence of line 2 of the Panama Metro system”, prepared in 2016, the area of influence indicates opportunity spaces for the 112 hectares of land on which this new section passes, for developments strategies related to the Tocumen airport. Some land purchased from the University of Panama for US$109.8 million, 325 hectares in total, through an agreement in 2012, at the time of the urban planning of the new terminal 2.With this new infrastructure there is room for development in the urban planning of the Tocumen node. Greater opportunities exist with the incorporation of Line 5 into the network, which can diversify destinations to the city center and other destinations such as Costa del Este and Calle 50. The same with the extension of Line 2 to Paitilla. Tocumen airport is located near one of the fastest growing business districts: Costa del Este and Santa María. It is also an opportunity to incorporate neighboring communities into urban services, housing, and jobs, such as Tocumen, 24 de Diciembre, Pacora, and Chepo, related to mass public transportation.