The Wi-Fi bus

Here’s a fascinating story of how access to the Internet alters behavior . . . in a good way.

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-tech 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’s driver. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”

I guess many of them are playing games, chatting with friends or doing other fun stuff, but anything is better than the boredom of the bus.

I wonder how well Wi-Fi would work to improve behavior in actual schools, particularly schools that have problems with discipline. Hopefully our education officials will pay attention to this development.

As someone who travels often, it’s painfully obvious that something like Wi-Fi can change a trip dramatically, particularly when you forget to bring reading material. There’s always tons of dead time, even if you’re on a fun trip as a tourist, and having access to the Internet is a great way to pass the time. I can only imagine how relieved students are to have this on their buses. Hopefully we’ll see it in most airplanes soon.

Get more travel information at Sundance Vacations.


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