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Wi-fi turns bus ride into a rolling study hall

VAIL, Ariz. —Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.

Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-technology experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.

“It’s made a big difference,” said J.J. Johnson, the bus’ driver. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”

The company marketing the router, Autonet Mobile, says it has sold them to schools or districts in Florida, Missouri and Washington, D.C.

Sam Dillon, The New York Times

Traffic isn’t better, but Broadway mall will remain open

NEW YORK —New York’s ambitious experiment that closed parts of Broadway to vehicular traffic last spring will become permanent, city officials said on Thursday, even though it fell short of achieving its chief objective: improving traffic flow.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that a reduction in injuries to pedestrians and motorists, along with a warm response from local merchants and tourists, had persuaded him to retain the 8-month-old pedestrian plazas in Times Square and Herald Square, a marquee initiative for his administration that re-engineered the Midtown street grid.

But traffic speeds slowed on many crosstown streets, as well as on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, according to data from more than 5,700 test runs conducted by the Department of Transportation.

There were some improvements, but they mostly missed the city’s targets. Traffic along Seventh Avenue, for instance, moved 4 percent faster, but the city had hoped for a gain of up to 17 percent.

Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times

Degeneres a rising star in daytime

Executives at Warner Brothers have long believed that Ellen DeGeneres is the heir apparent to Oprah Winfrey in daytime TV. Still, they were startled by the news that a media research firm delivered to them last spring.

The researchers from SmithGeiger, who had been hired to assess the talk show landscape, convened to tell a group of six executives that “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” was, for the first time, on par with “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the minds of viewers. They had ample reason to conclude that this was DeGeneres’ moment.

Viewer awareness of “Oprah” and “Ellen” is roughly even, said Henry Schafer, an executive vice president at Q Scores. “The big difference is, these days, Ellen is a much more likable personality than Oprah,” he said.

Winfrey’s program, however, creates a much stronger emotional bond with viewers, perhaps explaining why “Oprah” is still far and away the No.1 syndicated talk show, albeit one that is waning.

Brian Stelter, The New York Times