Finance at SAS 802: Safety on the Bus
For over two decades, Yeap Transport has brought most SAS students to and from school every day. Over the years, we have been impressed by Yeap's responsiveness to our concerns as we have worked together to ensure that students' bus rides are as safe, comfortable, and efficient as possible. Today we explore Yeap's focus on safety, which is a key reason for our continuing partnership.
In early September, an SAS middle school student was struck by a taxi while crossing the road after alighting from her afternoon bus. Investigations are ongoing, but it seems likely the police will conclude that the taxi, which was trying to speed past the bus from behind, was at fault. This unfortunate incident serves to remind us that constant vigilance is necessary to ensure students' well-being during each stage of the commute. Students, parents, teachers, and bus staff must all play their parts in getting students to and from school safely every day.
Yeap's core values are safety, innovation, reliability, and customer service. In putting safety first, the company identifies the top concern for itself, its customers, and its partners. This focus has resulted in a history free of serious accidents before the recent one. According to company director Adrian Yeap, "[until now] all the accidents reported have resulted in minor dents to the sides or bumpers of the vehicles. We have not had any accidents involving serious injuries to students since 1993 when I was first contracted by SAS."
Safety starts with the selection and training of the bus crews. All Yeap drivers and monitors hold a Vocational License issued by Singapore's Land Transport Authority, indicating they have passed the government-required training. Yeap's drivers have an average of 10.5 years of driving experience, with new hires averaging of 4.5 years of experience. Upon joining Yeap, drivers are instructed in standard operating procedures by a Yeap operations manager. Each is then assigned a driver supervisor who mentors them as they settle in. Bus monitors (or "bus aunties") may by hired with less prior experience, but also receive instruction upon joining Yeap and are then mentored by monitor supervisors.
Yeap bus crews attend regular training programs adopted from the American Yellow School Bus industry and enhanced through partnerships with the Traffic Police and Singapore Civil Defence Force. Officers from these services have taught crews how to avoid unsafe situations, sharing pictures of real accidents to drive home their points. Recently, SCDF officers spent two days at SAS teaching crews how to assist injured passengers and use the on-board fire extinguishers. After the recent incident, the bus driver said these sessions helped him know what to do to keep the student calm and out of further danger while waiting for the ambulance.
Besides making sure its employees are carefully selected and trained, Yeap incorporates a variety of other safety measures:
During the ride
- Seatbelts: Singapore law mandates seatbelts only on buses with fewer than 13 seats, but all Yeap buses have three-point seatbelts for all riders. Bus monitors ensure that elementary school students fasten their seatbelts and encourage older students to do so.
- Bus monitors: Every bus has a bus monitor on board to help students get on and off the bus and to manage student behavior.
- Instructional aides on activity buses: Starting last year, all activities buses carrying students in grade 2 and younger also have an SAS IA on board.
- GPS: Yeap buses are tracked using GPS technology, which logs their exact locations and speeds. Drivers must stay within legislated speed limits, and this can be checked through GPS records.
- On-board cameras: These help manage student and staff behavior and ensure that drivers are adhering to safe driving techniques.
At pickup and drop-off points
- Flashing signs: Each school bus has a rear, triangular "Children Crossing" sign, which flashes when the bus stops and opens its door.
- Elementary school students only released to an adult carer: Students through grade 5 must be met by an adult at the drop-off point. If no adult is at the drop-off point, the student must remain on the bus until suitable arrangements can be made.
- Safe locations: Yeap prefers to stop on the side of the road closest to students' home or building entrances, but due to street and routing configurations, this is not always possible.
- Assistance for students crossing roads: On smaller roads, bus crews assist middle and high school students who must cross the road by themselves after alighting, with the driver giving the "thumbs-up" sign to the bus monitor when crossing appears safe. On larger roads, students are expected to use the nearest crosswalk.
Maintenance, standards, and communications
- Bus safety checks: Yeap buses receive frequent internal inspections and visit LTA-approved inspection centers annually.
- Low average bus age and strict emissions standards: Yeap's bus renewal program results in an average bus age of six years. All buses meet Euro 4 and 5 emissions standards.
- SMS broadcast system: Yeap notifies parents of any delays over 15 minutes while buses are en route.
- Incident reviews: All accidents are reported to Sebastian Wong, SAS Health and Safety Specialist, who reviews them with the school's safety committee.
We deeply regret that a student was injured after leaving her bus, but upon review of the circumstances and Yeap's safety measures, we retain our confidence that Yeap Transport provides high standards of safety as well as excellent service and affordability. Working together, we will keep refining our procedures to avoid similar incidents in the future. In particular, we will continue to stress that bus crews should remind students about road-safety precautions at street-side drop-off points; we will educate our new students about Singapore's traffic and pedestrian rules and customs; and we will remind students transitioning to middle school that they are expected to take more responsibility for their own road safety as they get older, with particular emphasis on safe road-crossing practices.
To learn more about the private bus sector in Singapore and our history with Yeap Transport, read on here. Please send any questions or comments about our bus services to Contract Services Manager Richard Hogan at email@example.com. Ideas for future articles are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Adrian Yeap, third from left, with Yeap bus drivers and traffic police officers at the "Be Seen, Be Safe" road safety campaign held in conjunction with the Singapore Traffic Police in July 2018. In recognition of Yeap Transport's outstanding reputation for safety among Singapore's private bus companies, Mr. Yeap was honored with the title of Organizing Chairman for this event.