How to use the Metrobus in Panama
Using the Metro bus in Panama is great once you learn how to use it. And with the Diablo Rojos coming to an end, you can safely and easily try out Panama’s new Metrobus transportation system. I started using the Metrobus last year after they began doing a route near my apartment and overall I really like it. It is air conditioned, comfortable, and I feel safe while using it. It also saves me a lot of money compared to when I would use a taxi every day.
If you want to use the Metrobus, you will first need to buy a Metrobus card for $2. You have to have the card because they do not accept cash. You can buy this at almost any grocery store or pharmacy, or CLICK HERE to see places where you can buy it. I would just load it with $5 at first to make sure you use it.
The cost for using the Metrobus is .25 cents throughout the city and $1.25 for routes that use the corredor (these routes will say Corredor Sur or Norte on the bus). So if you just need routes in the city, $5 lasts you a long time.
All of the Metrobus stops will have an orange sign that says Metrobus by it. They say the busses go by every 15 minutes but this definitely varies. Sometimes I only have to wait 5 minutes and I have waited up to an hour before. It really depends on traffic and time of day, after work is the worst! I think that the wait times will decrease and be more consistent as time goes on. When you start using it, get there early so you know how long it takes and you aren’t late to wherever you need to go.
When you see the bus that you need you will need to wave your hand, they do not always stop at every stop like they are supposed to. Entering the bus you just need to scan your card at the front and then pick a seat or stand if it is really crowded. To exit the bus, push one of the red buttons and the driver will stop at the next available stop. If you need to transfer busses, swipe your card on the scanner by the exit so that you do not get charged on the next bus (this lasts for 40 minutes).
In my opinion, the best route for getting around the city is the bus that says: Panama Viejo-Via Israel-Mariscos. It stops by key places like Multiplaza, Multicentro, Avenida Balboa, San Francisco, the Fish Market and Atlapa. There are a ton of busses for this route so you should not have to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus. You can get the bus at any of the stops on Via Israel, & Avenida Balboa (it basically goes in a circle on these main streets). For a map of this route CLICK HERE.
Almost all the Metrobusses stop at Albrook. So if you need to go there, get on any bus that says Albrook and then be sure to get on the same bus when going back.
After having the Metrobus for almost 3 years now, they have finally published Metrobus route maps for Panama. CLICK HERE to see all of the Metrobus routes. Also, there are also some smartphone apps that let you always know the balance on your Metrobus card. You can download one for iPhone by clicking HERE and android by clicking HERE.
Feel free to share your experiences with using the Metrobus or if you need information for how to get from point A to B: