Today sees the cheaper prices for public transport tickets come into effect (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).The temporary move, which lasts until June 30th, sees the cost of various tickets available for travel around Barcelona city and the surrounding metropolitan area fall by five percent; it primarily effects train tickets for travel on local Rodalies services as well as Renfe medium-distance transport. However, because Barcelona has an integrated ticket system, the cost of tickets such as the T-10, which can also be used on the metro, buses and FGC trains, is also coming down. According to an agreement reached between the Catalan and Spanish governments, the cost of this cut will be paid for by the central administration, providing the €6.37 million needed to cover the difference in price;most of this will go towards subsidising the integrated tickets (€5.51 million). While the price reduction is temporary, any tickets bought during the three months that it is applied will have the same expiry date as if bought at the standard price, ie. the end of February or March 2012. From today, a T-10 will cost €7.85 rather than €8.25.
A new survey suggests that the use of Catalan here is doing well (read aricle in Catalan here, Avui). According to the findings, 35 percent of people in Catalunya have the language as their main one, learned at home from a child, while just over 39 percent say it is the language with which they most identify, when asked 'which is your language?'. Personal interviews were held with 33,000 people for this research, the results of which have been published in a study entitled 'Knowledge and use of Catalan in Catalunya in 2010'. "We can't say that they are the results that we expected, but they show that Catalan is in a positive dynamic," said Miquel Àngel Pradilla, the director of an organisation that carries out research into the situation of the language, and one of the entities involved in gathering these statistics. Other findings include the fact that 96 percent of people born here speak Catalan, while only 57 percent of those born in other parts of Spain and 40 percent of those born abroad do so. There were also discrepancies found between Catalan and Castilian; while 95 percent of those asked said they understood Catalan, 99.9 percent understood Castilian; similarly, 77.5 percent and 60.6 percent said they could speak and write Catalan respectively, compared to 99.8 percent and 99 percent in Castilian.
The planned 10 percent cut in the budget for health services in Catalunya is likely to mean a reduction in the number of beds available in the majority of health centres in the region, while waiting-lists for certain procedures are likely to get longer, causing disquiet amongst professionalis in the sector - in response, the health minister of the Generalitat, Boi Ruiz, has said that no one will be deprived of any service (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While the Hospital de Bellvitge has proposed the closure of two floors of wards, for a saving of €2.5 million, the Hospital Clínic is planning to close off 100 in-patient beds. With such moves being put forward in response to the Catalan department of health's demand for cost-cutting measures, there is a strong feeling of upset in the sector despite Ruiz's attempts to calm the situation. The health department has also issued a statement saying that none of the cuts will "cross the red-line of affecting relations between doctors and patients." The department said that there won't be any revision of the plans made by the hospitals themselves and that the final changes to be put in place will be announced no later than April 22nd, the start of the Easter holiday weekend.