on Mar 23rd, 2009 in Delivery & Collection | 37 comments
 

Mail volume plummeted 4.5 percent — or 9.5 billion pieces — in fiscal year (FY) 2008. Reduced mail volume allows the Postal Service to combine delivery routes to maximize efficiency and reduce workhours, overtime, and other expenses. The Postal Service is seizing this opportunity by consolidating more than 87,000 city delivery routes — which could affect as many as 50 million addresses nationwide. Consolidating routes means some customers will receive their mail at a different time — earlier or later in the day. It also means the customer could have a different letter carrier who will have to become familiar with a new delivery route.

There were more than 211,000 city carriers delivering mail to 87 million residential and business city delivery points at the end of FY 2008. On average, each carrier’s route has 500 to 700 delivery points. A carrier’s day involves two types of work: sorting mail in the office and delivering mail on the street. In the past, carriers typically spent several hours each day at the post office sorting mail for their route into delivery order. Now, machines sort most letter mail into delivery order automatically, and fewer pieces of mail means it takes less time for carriers to sort mail at the post office. This leaves carriers more time “on the street” allowing them to reach more delivery points.

On the street, the length of time a carrier takes to deliver mail on a route depends on factors such as the number of delivery points and the distance between them as well as mail volume. For instance, a carrier can deliver 10 letters to an address almost as quickly as 1 letter. More than 400,000 new city delivery points were added in FY 2008. When adjusting routes, the Postal Service must consider both mail volume and delivery points — including new delivery points — to build a route with 8 hours of work.

bar chart showing city delivery points FY 2005: 85,804,626; FY 2006: 86,292,173; FY 2007: 86,882,476; FY 2008: 87,285,380

The Postal Service also relies on carriers to help ensure addresses on their routes are accurate by reporting vacant and abandoned buildings. If a carrier has 30 delivery points on her route and a 20-delivery-point apartment complex is torn down, it will reduce the route to 10 delivery points. Approximately 20 delivery points could be added to the carrier’s route.

Do you think consolidating city delivery routes will have a positive effect on the Postal Service’s bottom line? Why or why not? Will it be difficult for carriers — particularly those who walk their routes — to spend more time on the street?

37 Comments


Route consolidations has always been a "tool' used by the postal service to help manage cost. This tool has long been oppposed by the unions because less routes means less carriers, less carriers mean less members of the union. However, these route consolidations although very helpful in manageing costs, can be problematic regarding the amount of hours carriers spend on the street. The carriers workfore is getting a bit older and I'm wondering if this will have any effect on worker comp costs and sick leave because of additional street work load?

sounds like delivery stop make the biggest diffenece, and they add 400,000 more,remember safty first, one life is is more important than 1 hour

If street supervision were truly done, or route supervsion, we probably would not be in the mess we're in, and routes wouldn't have gotten out of control.

Another "Consolidation" needed is Postmaster Consolidation!

MOST Postmasters do VERY LITTLE each day other than talk to their superiors on the phone and review the days "numbers" and paperwork. The idea of one Postmaster per zip code is outdated and a waste of salary & manpower. There are more "small" post offices than larger ones.

Postmasters should be assigned to oversee more than one office when possible. This is LONG OVERDUE!

I remember when I first started as a letter carrier (1986) in an office with 15 carriers, 15 clerks and 1 maintenance man. Our Postmaster spent most of the day in his office leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head. When he got bored he would come out on the floor and walk up behind employees and say "you're not going fast enough." The man had nothing to do 90 percent of the time and resorted to adgitating employees to amuse himself and break the monotony.

What a waste of money and manpower! When is the Postal Service going to give the Postmaster in an average office some WORK to go along with his responsiblity?

IF THE POSTAL SERVICE COULD ADJUST ROUTES FAIRLY IT WOULD BE BENEFIT BUT THET DON'T IT IS A MORALE BUSTER WHEN VOLUMN DROPS ADD TO THE ROUTES WHEN VOLUME INCREASES DO NOTHING YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

We're taking a route out of our station in metro Wisconsin. Of oourse they are trying to do it with a computor program, and two supervisor's who have never carried mail. Stay tuned.

What happens when you cut all these routes and the mail volume all comes back.You pay overtime or you put it all back the way you had it.The postal system always ack without thinking things out.how much more can a carrier carry on the street with out getting hurt .then they will get writen up for that.I would love to see all managers have to to help out and deliver mail this would never happen.

The Post office needs to scrap IRAP and go back to full route inspections. This would save more money rather than combining offices.

I am a member of the adjustment team for our city. Things where going pretty smooth until the District got involved. They can't seam to grasp that a new approach to adjusting routes can be done without their input. So after a lot of stalling on Districts part and NOT following instructions given to them by HQ we've finally implemented the IARAP and all is well!
Things to take note of:
Carriers DO NOT get credit for casing all their S-999 mail. Check it on the CPC (Carrier Piece Count)totals.
Supervisors are skimming time of routes in DOIS. Extra meeting time, Misc. Activity whatever they can come up with!
Supervisors are also skimming time off of TACS. Basically stealing time from the workers!!!

More stops need to be made mounted. There are many suburban areas where the carrier walks door to door. They need to move these mailboxes to the curb where they can be done faster, safer, and with less injuries.

One thing not taken into consideration here in the northeast is the weather. A 6.5 hour street time can be two or more hours longer in the winter when snow is deep, temperatures much colder, slippery surfaces, people not clearing the walks, etc.

My route had an extra .5 hour added in September 08, it mad the route hell in the winter.

If the are Consolidating routes then the next step is reduce management.If you have less route's and mail volume then you don't need as much supervisor's.

Why isn't Headquarters looking an an evaluated system for city carriers? I guess maybe because it makes too much sense? It would certainly give the city carriers an incentive. The way it is now, the harder one works the more work is added to the route. Hardly a fair system.
With evaluated routes you could eliminate Supervisors, grievances, have a more consistent delivery time and save on overtime.

Managers and carriers, when asked individually, like the idea. It's the top leadership that seems to oppose the idea.

Kukini - Everything you, and others, say about converting city delivery to an evaluated system is true. You are also right when you say leadership opposes it - except it is leadership at the NALC, not at L'Enfant Plaza. The sad thing is that the rural carriers (NRLCA), who have taken it in the shorts with reduced pay due to volume declines, are "threatening" to get out of the evaluated system and go to FLSA 7A, just like the city carriers. What a backlash that would create!

Rich - good to see you are still around

Is this REALLY the OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL? Well, I can save the USPS in a "New York Minute." 24-years in the USPS, 4-years as a supervisor, 21-years as a City Letter carrier. CORE ROUTE! In any office, at least half the carriers are on the ODL list. (They desire overtime). Let's use as an example a fictional office of 30-routes. (Most are slightly more or less). You take 10% of those routes (in this case 3), and classify them as "Vacant Core Routes." Understand that you just eliminated 3 career positions. This means that you eliminated LEGACY COSTS for 3-positions. (You DO know what legacy costs are, right?). FAST FACT: A carrier on overtime earns NO ADDITIONAL BENEFITS. No additional pension, health benefits, uniform allotment, sick leave, annual leave, life insurance, NOTHING BUT THE MONEY. Aglance at any "Statement of Wages and Benefits" shows that a top step carrier earns $46/Hour in TOTAL compensation while on straight time. But on overtime that same carrier only get's the money, roughly $37.50/ hour. SO IT IS CHEAPER to pay your regular workers overtime IN LIEU OF hiring more career workers and funding their pensions and everything else for 30+ years. (The USPS SAVES about $8/hour). Sooooo, what you do is take 10% of the routes in an office and classify them as "CORE ROUTES", located in THE CORE of a city or town. These routes will be set up as 1-hour office and 6-hours street. (5 Pieces, 1-hour office and 4-ONE AND A HALF HOUR SPLITS). So for each core route, carriers on the ODL will bid by seniority to service a piece. THE SAME CARRIER, performing the SAME FUNCTION, everyday. Same carrier casing the core route. Same carrier delivering the same split. Customer gets good service. In the event that a piece of the core route is vacant, a PTF will service that section, but it's only for a day. Nothing is different between a regular route and a core route as far as distribution is concerned for a core route. DPS is run the same. COA's, Holds, Special Orders are entered by regular carriers. Because they know that they'll get the same section everyday, more carriers will volunteer for this extra work. The USPS benefits because they eliminated 3 carreer positions and their legacy costs. The carrier benefits because he has the opportunity to earn more. The customer benefits because he has the same carrier everyday that's accountable for that sectiom. THERE: I just reduced the carrier compliment by 10% to 15% and saved the USPS a Billion a year, and ALL ARE GLAD TO DO IT. If you folks would listen to your veteran workers you would learn a few tricks. Regards, Nick.

Not abd idea Nostra EXCEPT when you hav an office with only 1 or 2 on the ODL. We have 17 rts. In the summer and winter we only get 2 or 3 on the ODL.

Postal customers should have to have their mail box out to the street to help speed up deliveries. Door delivery should only be for person physically unable to walk to the box.

As a carrier i have to take issue with your statement that a carrier can deliver ten letters almost as fast as ten. with dps what idiot can't see that to finger ten letters takes ten times as long as to finger one letter.

Probably was in a Park & Loop state of mind. It takes me One Minute to walk from one Delivery Point to the next. I finger as I walk, How many pieces of mail can you finger in One Minute?

They must have been in a Park & Loop state of mind. It takes me one minute to walk from one delivery point to the next. How many pieces of mail can you finger in one minute?

hey nick. you carry 10 hrs a day and see how long you last. and what happens if "half the carriers" aren't on the ODL????? like in my office. 14 routes. 2 carriers on the ODL!!!!!!!!!!!! forced ot. violations of article 8 costing $1000's.....sorry nick not ALL ARE GLAD TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!SOME OF US ARE EXHAUSTED AND OUR MORALE IS SHOT!!!!!!!!!!sorry to blow your big plan.....cut management....our postmaster makes $85 grand a yr. he comes in @ 830 carriers are on the street from 9 to 4 so he and our supervisor manage 2 window and 1 distribution clerk for 7 hrs....floating postmaster and hire sum carriers.....

Service will definitely take a hit. Supervisors also need to worry about office times. Those of us who do our routes in time and are off the clock in 8 hours are the ones being punished. We get to watch carriers walk around and chit chat in the morning, then get help on the street and also come back on OT, all the while being told we need to do extra on the street. There is plenty of blame to go around. Lower mail volume is just a convenient excuse. Oh, and as a separate issue, I was sitting in the parking lot of a laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry. It is right across the street from a post office. I see a TE come out of the PO with a hit to deliver around the corner. Five minutes later, I see a lady walking around the corner heading for the PO with the TE right behind and they are basically shouting at each other about misdelivered mail. They both enter the PO still shouting and a minute later the TE comes out to continue his hit though he's still shouting to himself about the customer. Like I said, service is gonna take a hit.

Evaluated city routes.....

If the post office was really serious about saving money and the PO they would look at every position like they do the carriers. Some days we have one supervisor and some days we've had five, go figure. Another big problem for the budget and moral is the relocation/ house buying program. The PO spent over 78 million last year buying houses from bigwigs from headquarters that want a "transfer". Carriers are being forced to "pivot" (carry part of someone else's route - no OT) to help with making budget. BUT, carriers will have to pivot 3,120,000 hours to make back the money management wasted on just the house buying program! Also, carriers are the ONLY ones "pivoting" NO other employee is doing someone else's job. In fact we are over staffed in every position except the carrier craft. Many times management have taken a carrier off his route to work the desk when we had 4 supervisors (for an office of 40 routes) already, making carriers work overtime to cover the route of the desk rider, this makes no sense and waste money BUT it will happen again -today, in fact, in our office.

Route consolidation; this will work for awhile, but then a carrier can only walk so far in 8 hours. Then it becomes too much. Later, there will be health problems like pain in the feet, knees, hips, shoulders. Then a slow down as pain dominates the mind of the carrier. We will be like the workers making mud bricks for the pyramids. We will age quickly with no end in sight. We need a long term solution like cluster boxes in the city and rural mail boxes in the suburbs. You can give a letter carrier an assignment with high expectations, but that does not mean it can be done. You get rid of the manager/supervisor bonuses, get rid of some top level managers/executives, and then you tell the craft employees, we are in trouble, it is your job, it is your food on the table, protect it by doing whatever you can to reduce overtime. You will save the postal service. At the same time management needs to spend money wisely. No more wacky contracts on new gadgets so my brother in law's company can get the contract. You guys at the top know what I mean. The pig trough is almost empty.

"If a carrier has 30 delivery points on her route and a 20-delivery-point apartment complex is torn down, it will reduce the route to 10 delivery points. Approximately 20 delivery points could be added to the carrier’s route."

This is a misleading example. Those 20 apartments probably have a collection box in the complex that all 20 apartments use. It's only 1 (THAT'S ONE) delivery point. I'm not a carrier, so bias remark here.

No wonder the USPS is in financial trouble... look at their math.

Delivering to 20 delivery points (park & loop) takes me 20 minutes. Delivering to a 20 unit apartment only takes me 5 minutes on my route.

Sooo.

If I loose my 5 minute apartment building, I will be added 20 minutes onto my route? That will make my route 15 minutes longer than before.

On my route, it takes me 5 minutes to deliver to a 20 unit apartment complex.
If I loose that complex, and it is replaced with 20 delivery points (Park & Loop), my route will have been made 15 minutes longer than it was before the loss of the apartment complex.

Acarrier Says what? Talk about selfish and arrogant, I agree carriers are understaffed, but so are most crafts at most locations. From pulling the mail off the truck, to running the machines, to trying to get mail to the carriers in a timely manner, to meeting managements numbers, to getting the bathrooms cleaned to servicing customers at the window, ALL CRAFTS are asked to do more with less. Get your head out of the paper bag and ask your fellow craft employees what additional pressures have been added to there day. Be kind to one another, in the end were all in the same boat, getting older and expected to do more each day. We are all USPS craft employees, and I hope we all continue to have a job.

I'm just relieved to have a good paying job. I've been with the USPS for over 30 years and have a lot of friends that are out of work. Try a career change at 50. It is not pretty in today's economy.

As carriers we make a little over $40 per hour (including benefits). We get regular raises every year. Is it fair that the USPS expects more from us? Where else can we find a job that doesn't require a college degree that pays $40 per hour? Most of our people just don't get it. We need to supply a little more spring to our step. Our careers and livelyhood depends on it.

I agree with the individual who mentioned mailboxes being placed so the carrier can deliver without dismounting. People complain about the price of postage.....then place their mailboxes where the carriers have to dismount. We are getting paid alot of money to park,turn off engine, curb wheels, set brake,unbuckle, dismount, remount, buckle, start, disengage brake, put in gear and go. After doing this 800 times a day, it is enough to drive a person batty. If everyone, except handicapped individuals, that is being serviced by a MOUNTED carrier would place mailbox where it can be reached by one simple motion out the window, the postal financial crisis would be over! Just think of the savings in unjuries alone. Of course there would be no need for TEs anymore.....there goes my job. It is just hard to listen to people complain about prices.......someone has to pay for the time it takes to walk up to their door aprox. 303 times a year.

Hi, Im a letter carrier and I already work harder than anyone in my office... so of course, they keep adding on.... if they add anymore I will seriously be in a wheel chair by age 45... I dont know how much longer I can keep up this pace. So please add to the slow and lazy, before me....

Truly smart business don't just look at HUGE things they can do to save money, they look at the small things that add up. In my husband's office (which I used to work at also), each day management makes carriers go out for a second run of deliveries to make sure all first class letters go out every day. At $20-$40 an hour to pay 3-4 people to go back out for a handful of .30-.45 cent items, it's a loss of several hundred dollars a day just for one office. Multiply that by 10K offices and how much is being lost every day? The logic fails me. First of all, it's first class, not Express Mail. Second, customers do not go back out to check their box a second time, so they don't even know they got it that day! But I guess slogans like "Every piece every day" sound good.

Then their is the pricing of products. Too many deep discounts for mass mailers. So many parcel choices that customers can't use the automated equipment in the lobby because they don't even know how they should mail their parcel because there are too many choices and the pricing structure is unclear. Refining product choices, and eliminating redundant or loss-producing choices could save a lot of money.

What about looking at years when they were showing a profit and going back to the same ratio of delivery points per piece of mail? Consolidating not only routes, but offices, and then selling or leasing the excess real estate?

If the Postal Service asked it's own carriers how to save money, instead of their management, they would get vastly different answers. Real answers. Carriers see where the money is wasted, the man-hours, and they care about preserving the Postal Service and their jobs. Management just wants to keep their budget intact for next year, just as big as last year, so they have no motivation to actually save.

Rural carriers were ripped off in the last count and took huge pay cuts due to lack of mail volume. What about Post Masters? Why not have their salary based on the mail volume of their office, so they can have a nice pay cut too? Or why not eliminate this "figure head" position? When I worked for the Postal service our PM sat in his chair with his FEET ON THE DESK reading the newspaper for HOURS every morning. I don't think the higher-ups realize how many hours a day could be cut from management without affecting operations.How about one area manager and no PMs? Why not have the number of supervisors and 204Bs an office is allowed to employ be based on the mail volume as well?

I always choose the USPS. They give an outstanding service for a pittance. I get to mail packages for about half what the UPS store quotes me. I get free packing supplies, and super nice clerks. Why doesn't everyone know how much cheaper they are than UPS? How about instead of advertising for supporting Lance Armstrong or other equally stupid money-wasting BS they actually advertise a comparison of shipping rates? In this economy people want to save money!

There are so many ways to save money and generate income. Other businesses use them all the time. The problem with the PS is they are so big, the high-higher ups who make the decisions don't know what's going on in the local offices. There are too many layers to the management, each layer trusting the one beneath it, and what they fail to grasp is that there is an ingrained, good-old-boys club of managers who seek only to keep their cushy positions and meet for lunch. Not a group that can be trusted to do what is best for the business.

I work ten years on all walking routes, finally bid up to a mixed walking/boxes route which I've kept for five years, saving on the wear and tear on my 61 year old body. So what does our union do, remove boxes and replace them with over 2 hours of walking, all in an effort to build routes for our handicapped carriers. Talk about over-the-top unfairness!!!!!

My route was recognised as being 8 hours and didn't need an adjustment.

However...

The carrier servicing the route adjacent to mine is out of shape and cannot handle Park & Loop. during the adjustment process, 80 of my deliveries consisting of apartments were removed from my route. In exchange I was added 80 deliveries of Park & Loop.

The 80 delivery points I lost used to take me 20 minutes to deliver.
The 80 delivery points added to my route take me 90 minutes to deliver!

As a senior worker myself, I can imagine the pain of the older delivery staff trying to keep the job while fighting the aches and pains that the aging body brings!

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