Post Office Struggles, Fleet Suffers

Aug 12, 2011
Post Office imageThe United States Postal Service is currently looking to cut 120,000 jobs in an effort to keep the struggling agency afloat through 2015, asking Congress to end collective bargaining agreements to allow layoffs. The Post Office has been steadily losing money for years, which has taken a toll on its fleet of mail trucks.

The Postal Service owns more than 161,000 right-hand drive trucks, another 22,000 left-hand-drive minivans and 3,490 delivery vehicles. These vehicles are nearing the end of a 24-year lifecycle, but replacing them would come at an unreasonable cost. A major replacement or refurbishment of the vehicles would cost about $5.8 billion. With the Postal Service expected to LOSE roughly $7 billion dollars this year, a full replacement is simply not possible.

The USPS claims that it is continuously repairing its vehicles due to their unavailability on the commercial market, and due to a contractual obligation with rural branches to retain right-hand drive vehicles for letter carriers. But these repairs come with their own costs; repairs on some vehicles in the fleet cost about 1/3 as much as it would have cost to replace them.

While the Postal Service is also negotiating with Congress to develop a long-term fleet replacement strategy, some members of the House are not pleased with their efforts. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) said “it’s unacceptable that the Postal Service has no official plans to date to begin replacing its aging fleet, perhaps with more fuel efficient and cost effective vehicles.”

“But it’s also unacceptable that the Postal Service has been placed in this position financially, in part due to acts of Congress,” Carper said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Zena C and re-used under the Creative Commons license.