Dear SMRT and National Transport Worker Union, don’t confuse the reader

So SMRT decided to introduce a new “progressive career scheme” for its bus captain which is good news right?

http://business.asiaone.com/career/news/smrt-introduces-new-progressive-career-scheme-bus-drivers
http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/local-smrt-bus-captains-can-now-earn-s3500-month

I was reading this piece of news from various papers and I became incredibly irritated with this sentence.

“Under the scheme, the average Singaporean SMRT bus captain will be able to earn up to S$3,500 a month after overtime and with performance incentives — which will be awarded for punctuality and meeting high safety and customer service standards.”

This is extremely befuddling for me to read because of the use of the word “average” and “up to”. To be very clear here, “average” is a number that one derives by taking the sum of all X, divided by the number of X. “Up to” is a ceiling, meaning the highest possible number given X.

Which makes this sentence really confusing isn’t it. Average Singaporean SMRT bus captain will be able to earn up to $3,500 a month after overtime and with performance incentives. This sentence doesn’t make any sense! What’s the average here? It’s either
A. Average Singaporean SMRT bus captain will be able to earn $3,500 a month after overtime and with performance incentives. OR

B. Singaporean SMRT bus captain will be able to earn up to $,3500 a month after overtime and with performance incentives.

For option A, it means that some bus captains will earn more than $3,500 others less than $3,500 but taking the sum of all the bus captain earnings divided by the number of bus captains, $3,500 is the number.

For option B, it means that the maximum a SMRT bus captain will be able to earn is $3,500.

If you finish the article, it states that:

“In May last year, SMRT announced an upward revision of the basic monthly pay of its Singaporean bus drivers by 35 per cent to S$1,625, which the company said would enable them to take home an average of about S$2,500 each month after factoring in overtime, allowances and incentives.”

Taking this into consideration, if it’s option A, then this is indeed a sizable pay increase, after all average take home increase by 40% from ($2500 to $3500). If it’s option B, then it could possibly be no difference at all since the statement earlier was talking about the upper limit of $3500 while this is referring to the average take home.

But I am here being cynical. I clearly don’t think it’s option A, because if it is option A, then why introduce the word average in front. I am being cynical in assuming that the word average is added in front to give the impression that the average bus drivers earn $3,500 which seems quite a lot to most readers. But if that is true, it also means that up to $1,875 of pay is variable and non basic as basic pay is only $1,625. Highly unlikely and how much OT does one need to do to get to that amount? And is there actually a limit to the number of hours a driver can stay on the road?

Maybe I am a prick. Maybe they are referring to drivers of average height, or of average driving ability, or average age. I have no idea what their average here is, but I do not like the way they structure this sentence with the intention of confusing the reader. By the way, SMRT, paying your drivers a basic of $1,625 is pathetic. Paying them up to $3,500 by making them work 6 days week, 12 hours shift is nothing to shout about. And with your pay starting at $1,625 and capped at $3,500, it’s no wonder you have trouble attracting younger Singaporeans into the job. Last I read, crane operators start around $4,000 and can earn up to $7,000. I think it makes more sense to learn how to operate a crane rather than to drive a bus.

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