School Finance 520: Bus and Food Services Changes for 2016-17

School Finance 520: Bus and Food Services Changes for 2016-17

We are pleased to announce updated contracts with Hoe Brothers Catering and Yeap Transport for next year, ensuring continued high standards of service for SAS diners and bus riders. This week we would like to give readers some context to these agreements, as well as the details of what they mean for the SAS community.

Bus service changes and enhancements

Eighty percent of SAS students (over 3,150 this year) ride the bus to and from school each day. Yeap Transport has been our bus service provider since the 1990s, and the company has weathered significant challenges to Singapore's private bus industry while keeping prices relatively low. Yeap has a proven record of safe, reliable, comfortable service, and is able to accommodate every SAS student requesting transport with point-to-point pickup and dropoff service, as well as providing activities buses, excursion transportation, and the shuttle bus to the Marsiling MRT station.

Due to ongoing market adjustments, there will be a modest price increase for bus services for the 2016-17 school year. This change is necessary due to continued upward pressure on labor costs, as well as high COE costs and the loss of extra bus routes for owner-operators. On the positive side, petrol prices in Singapore have seen a moderate decrease during the last year.

SAS students still enjoy bus rates that compare very favorably with other schools' bus service rates, as can be seen below. This is because Yeap Transport is committed to efficient price management and can take advantage of economies of scale that come with such a large bus fleet.

Starting in August, Yeap Transport will institute several enhancements to the current service:

  • drivers' supervisors will increase from two to four, to minimize disruptions in the event of breakdowns
  • monitors' supervisors will increase from two to four, to train, mentor, and assist monitors in handling on-board issues, and substitute for absentees
  • bus video cameras will be upgraded to allow for two-day recording, to ensure better tracking of student and staff behavior during rides
  • mobile bus tracking systems will be upgraded to allow the 4:30 and 6:15 p.m. buses to be tracked as well

We are confident that Yeap Transport will continue to provide prompt, safe, and comfortable service for our students, and we are pleased that our partnership with this respected, family-operated company continues. For more details about market conditions and Yeap Transport's service, please read our past columns on these topics, Finance 506 and Finance 316.

Food service changes and improvements

Turning to our food services, we are also pleased to continue our relationship with Hoe Brothers Catering. The Hoe family business has been our main meal provider since joining us at our King's Road campus half a century ago, as this recent Straits Times article explains. Over time, our model for school lunches has come to include set meals for children in grades pre-kindergarten through grade three, and à la carte selection for grades four and higher.

Next year, set meals for elementary school students will include plain milk for all students, with water available on their tables. We asked Hoe Brothers to make this change because the sugar content in the former juice and flavored milk options is not compatible with the recently updated 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Rising labor costs necessitate an increase in the set-meal prices, which will change to $5.30 for the pre-kindergarten set meal, and $5.50 for the kindergarten through grade three set meal. For more information about the elementary school meal changes for 2016-17, please read on here. Despite these changes, SAS diners will still enjoy lunch prices around the average currently charged by international schools in Singapore, as can be seen below.

In August, SAS diners will find two new options in the cafeterias. Elementary students will have a fifth set menu option: a salad bar, with fresh vegetable, lean protein, and grain-rich food choices specifically selected to appeal to children. High school diners will have a new frozen yogurt bar, including many fresh fruit toppings. At SAS we are constantly working to update and improve our ingredients, recipes, and menus. We encourage parents to stay involved with their children's food choices by looking at the relevant school menus and talking about what their students are choosing to eat and drink while at school.

We welcome parents' feedback about any aspect of our bus and food services. Please send these to contract services manager Richard Hogan at rhogan@sas.edu.sg. If you have comments, questions, or ideas for future finance articles, please send them to wscarborough@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.