San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Central America's first metro to run in Panama by year's end

PANAMA CITY – Central America’s first metro system will start service in Panama at the end of 2013, President Ricardo Martinelli said Friday during a test run.

Several lines are planned for Panama City, known for its congested and chaotic roads that connect to the suburbs.

The president and most of his Cabinet went for a two-kilometer (one-mile) ride, driving the train at times.

French firm Alstrom is responsible for building the trains, as part of a consortium with Brazilian firm Odebrecht and Spanish firm FCC.

An estimated 1.5 million people will use the system. The cost of the capital city’s first line is estimated at $1.8 billion.

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