St Stephen’s School has faced numerous bus service problems mere weeks into the new 2023 school term, The Straits Times reported.
The primary school in the Siglap area had to terminate their fresh two-year contract with transport operator Yeap Transport.
List of worries
The troubles faced by parents included last-minute revisions of timings, and buses not showing up.
A parent even claimed that a driver “stopped the bus in the middle of the road and threatened to throw the boys out if they did not quieten down”.
Yeap Transport told ST that it had struggled to find enough drivers and buses to provide services at St Stephen’s since it won the contract in October 2021.
CEO shares his side on TikTok
CEO of Yeap Transport, Adrian Yeap, explained in a TikTok uploaded on Feb. 18 the circumstances that transpired.
The video creator, who claimed to be an affected parent, asked Yeap why the company would put in a tender for the project if they could not fulfil it.
“We did our own research, and at the material time, we deemed that it was possible to fulfil the contract based on the number of subcontractors and our pricing,” Yeap claimed.
Lack of experienced bus drivers
Yeap said many experienced bus drivers left the trade during the pandemic.
He apologised for the negative experiences and said the new drivers who came in to assist were inexperienced, which led to some of the “safety lapses”.
He also claimed that he could not offer higher wages for drivers, as not only the bus fare was “already determined”, he would be “attracting bus drivers away from other schools”, and hence “depriving other children in other schools of their school bus service”.
“I do not believe in displacing my problem on others,” Yeap said.
On the issue of a bus driver threatening children, ST reported that according to Yeap Transport, the driver was raising his voice to get the children to wear their seat-belts, which was a safety issue.
You can watch the full video below:
@mavemason Please send my son home #YeapTransport #mavemason #Singaporeschoolbus #schoolbus #schoolbusdrivers ♬ original sound – Mave Mason
Solve issue for future generation
According to ST, Yeap Transport provides bus services to three other primary schools, three international schools and six pre-schools.
Yeap said in the video that the bus services in the “three MOE schools” are unaffected.
However, he claimed that “things could fall apart and become a bigger problem”.
He said all stakeholders, including the school bus industry and government regulators, must come together to address the driver supply shortage.
“It’s for the sake of our children. After all, you know, the students at the back of our buses are our future generation. Our future prime minister could be on one of those buses.”
The video drew mixed reactions online.
Some expressed support for the company, while others felt they could have done better and avoided the situation had they not underestimated their costs.
Some commenters said school bus drivers are being paid too low, and other transport companies also have staffing shortages.
Primary school hires new operator
In another article, ST said St Stephen’s School hired a new operator for their bus services, which will start in March 2023.
The tender document revealed that there would be fee changes, and the most significant hike is of one-way daily trips for pupils in medium-sized buses and living less than 2km away.
The fee will increase from S$118.80 to S$225 a month.
Around 490 pupils out of the school’s total student population of 1,300 children use the school bus service, noted the tender document.
Top image via Tik Tok @mavemason & Google Maps terence tan