The U.S. Postal Service we know today looks much different than it did a century ago. Its delivery network — including curbside mailboxes and delivery vehicles — was originally designed to deliver letters.

With the explosive growth of ecommerce over recent years, the Postal Service finds itself focusing more on delivering packages to mailboxes and front doors across the country. The Postal Service delivered about 6 billion packages in 2019, doubling its volume over a decade.

In our newly released white paper, Package Delivery in Rural and Dense Urban Areas, the OIG found that package delivery isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation; it varies based on population density. Package delivery to street-level, suburban homes is relatively quick and efficient. In contrast, in dense urban areas or in rural areas it can be more challenging. Dense urban areas often have many apartment buildings, often resulting in mail carriers delivering parcels to individual apartments — a time-consuming process. In rural areas, delivery points are often far apart, and mailboxes may be located far from customers’ homes. This means rural carriers may have to deliver letters to the mailbox and then go all the way to a customer’s front door to deliver larger packages. Over the course of a route, this is also a time-consuming and costly process.

The OIG highlighted some opportunities to make package delivery in extreme environments more efficient and cost-effective. The Postal Service could consider installing more parcel lockers in certain urban and rural areas, cutting multiple trips to front doors. The Postal Service could also encourage larger curbside mailboxes and better track parcel-related operational data to promote efficiency.

What do you think? What can the Postal Service do to make package delivery more efficient?

Comments (20)

  • anon

    My parents live in rural NM and pay for a PO BOx and are unable to get many packages shipped to them. They must drive an hour to get a package at a regional shipping center. I fully agree and support these requests. The USPS DOES need to address the shipping needs of rural residents, by any/all of the above options.

    May 18, 2021
  • anon

    Looking for mail and package service for a highrise

    May 11, 2021
  • anon

    Agreed that package delivery could be made more efficient. I notice lately that there is clustered delivery scheme to certain areas on my route. This is a good beginning. There should be a maximum package size accepted from Amazon or UPS. We save money by delivering to mailboxes. In addition, large packages take up more room in mail delivery vehicles requiring second or third trips. There should be a maximum volume cap on package size the Post Office will accept from these other carriers. One large box takes the space of many smaller packages resulting in less revenue.

    Feb 17, 2021
  • anon

    This report is "a day late and a dollar short". The increase in parcels was anticipated and yet ZERO prep was done. No NEW equipment to handle the huge surge of parcels that were EXPECTED. Many senior RC have retired because of the added volume of parcels, in addition to the actual weight/girth of these added parcels. I am one that retired the day after Thanksgiving. I have been working 10 hr days back to back....and add insult to injury--for the same exact pay !!! NOT the 10 plus hr pay....but the 8.25 hr pay. I def did not expect to be carrying heaters, metal desks, car parts, and picking up 100 parcels that ea weigh 38# and filled truck to ceiling !! CRAZY to say the least. A gut punch. New carriers have zero incentive to deliver correctly. Just get done before dispatch...no matter what.

    Jan 01, 2021
  • anon

    Some of the reason for late packages by the post offices is because they also deliver some of ups packages. My sister who is a mail carrier said that she has had to deliver a treadmill and an air conditioner and other large boxes usually deliver by ups. Since she drives a car, she couldn't get all her mail and her normal packages in the the car. She had to make several trips to make sure every thing is delivered by 5pm because they are not suppose to take mail back to the post office and all the mail for that day has to be delivered.

    Dec 29, 2020
  • anon

    I mailed a package from Colorado Springs to Bushnell, Illinois on 18 December. It made it to Des Moines, Iowa and then to St. Louis and tracking says that it has been languishing in St Louis since 23 December. Why is this and when will my package be delivered. Would USPS prefer that I use a competitors services?

    Dec 29, 2020
  • anon

    Mr. Tuthill, Do you think that other carriers were able to meet normal shipping dates ?? Fex X was at 67% on time, and UPS was 68% on time. USPS was posting delayed notices on tracking info. Let's face it, you will use whatever carrier is less expensive. You get a good deal with USPS. I have mailed over 2000 parcels all over USA/Europe for the 2020 yr. They all made it to their destination. Maybe not in 3 days, but I know the price is lower then other carriers and its still a Fed offense if someone tampers with mail/parcels. Your threat about using another carrier is laughable. FYI...other carriers were refusing parcels...USPS has no choice. They HAVE to take whatever is brought .

    Jan 01, 2021
  • anon

    Haven't got my mail from batesville ms

    Dec 26, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, I’m an essential worker at a large medical center, I leave for work at 6:30am and don’t get home until after 6:00pm. I live in Charlestown NH, 03603 Because I live “too close” to the post office, which is less than 1 mile, the post office will not deliver mail to my house and I’m required to have a post office box. The lobby of the post office opens at 6:00am. If I have a package to pick up, they leave a yellow slip in my box. Until about a month ago, I was able to get to the post office by 6:30am and if I had a yellow slip, I could ring the buzzer and they would kindly bring my package to me. They’ve recently removed the buzzer, so if there are yellow slips in my box they sit there all week as I cannot pick them up until Saturday. For instance, I got to the post office at 6:30am today (Monday 12/21) and there are 2 yellow slips in my box. This means I won’t be able to pick these up until Saturday because I cannot get to the post office during their regular business hours. I order medication for my pets and other items that simply cannot sit at the post office for a week. Occasionally they’ll put packages in a parcel locker for me but not always. My complaint is that I’m FORCED to have a PO Box because they won’t deliver to my house and now I CANNOT get my packages for up to 5 days after they’re delivered. How is this okay? Thank you in advance for any help you can give me regarding this.

    Dec 21, 2020
  • anon

    Someone please explain why priority mails going from Paramus NJ to Trenton NJ, around 77 miles apart, in the same state, took 11 days to get there (see below tracking history). Instead of going down the NJ Turpike by mail trucks, these priority mails get trucked to NY, flew down to VA, flew back up to PA and finally flew back to Jersey City, NJ, and eventually trucked to the destination in Trenton, NJ. Think about the cost involved - the manpower and the fuel cost, not to mention the 11 days it took. A lot cheaper had USPS paid FedEx trucks them down in few hours. What a waste of tax dollars!!! Tracking history ........................ Status Delivered December 16, 2020 at 7:49 am Delivered TRENTON, NJ 08646 Get Updates Delivered Text & Email Updates Tracking History December 16, 2020, 7:49 am Delivered TRENTON, NJ 08646 Your item was delivered at 7:49 am on December 16, 2020 in TRENTON, NJ 08646. December 16, 2020, 12:09 am Arrived at Post Office TRENTON, NJ 08650 December 15, 2020, 1:16 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility TRENTON NJ DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 15, 2020, 3:13 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility TRENTON NJ DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 15, 2020, 1:59 am Departed USPS Regional Facility JERSEY CITY NJ NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 14, 2020, 6:44 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility LEHIGH VALLEY PA DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 14, 2020, 11:44 am Departed USPS Regional Facility ROANOKE VA DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 12, 2020, 4:26 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility ROANOKE VA DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 11, 2020, 5:08 am Departed USPS Regional Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 11, 2020, 12:23 am Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER December 9, 2020 In Transit to Next Facility December 5, 2020, 2:31 pm Departed Post Office PARAMUS, NJ 07652 December 5, 2020, 1:25 pm USPS in possession of item PARAMUS, NJ 07652

    Dec 16, 2020
  • anon

    I shipped a package from reading pa to Trenton nj and the delivery lady was scanning packages early to avoid paying me back my shipping fees and now I'm being told because she did that I can't get my refund. If that the way your employees are being trained that is wrong and every employee who delivers mail need to be inspected on delivery times. How could she leave the office at 11:02 and delivered my package by 11:08 but actually got there at 12:28.

    Apr 12, 2021
  • anon

    I think that if living in rural area that has none of those problems of delivery mentioned , should be delivered period. In my area the PO refuses to deliver with no explanation. Since when is this OK?

    Nov 14, 2020
  • anon

    I was also supportive of USPS and no longer am. I have 5 packages sitting in NY never moving. You can call, email, anything and they just shuck you off to another person/department. The end result being you never receive your package. This summer a very expensive fan was delivered to the wrong address and USPS told me "well I hope it's insured". Insured? You delivered it to someone else's house and that's my fault. I have lost all faith in your organization and frankly I wouldn't mind if you were defunded. I don't have these issues with UPS or Fedex.

    Nov 03, 2020
  • anon

    The flat rate - preprinted on the box, 2 day delivery has got to catch up! Four days has become the “average” from Minnesota to Arizona. So I laughed out loud when the above article said “suburban homes is relatively quick and efficient”.....it used to be, but NOT now. I swear it is the drivers who choose not to deliver the package on time, not the transporting from MN to AZ! For the price you pay, the service is not what it used to be.

    Oct 10, 2020
  • anon

    Especially in the city environment, USPS should partner up with locations that are open 24 hours like 7-11, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, bank ATMS, anywhere the location is well lit, secure and most of all, convenient to install secure parcel lockers for customers that work long hours during the day and are not home to accept or able to pick up at post office during the week and the USPS have notorious long lines and extremely short hours on Saturday for parcel pick up. The customer can choose from a list of available locations to have the parcel dropped off and secured until they can pick the parcel up, the customer must pick up the parcel within three (3) days or it will be returned to sender, it is not a storage unit, it is a pickup unit that is convenient and secure. The same can be done at rural areas but they do not have the issues of stolen parcels like the city environment does.

    Sep 29, 2020
  • anon

    The postal service calls them P.O. Boxes and commercial mail receiving agencies. The UPS store and Amazon logistics have already snapped up the prime locations.

    Oct 18, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS must implement changes to accommodate its post office box customers who are trapped by SmartPost and SurePost. Many retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, will not permit customers to enter post office box numbers into their online applications when placing orders. When UPS or FedEx drop parcels at the local postal station, instead of making delivery to the house address, the parcels are returned to the sender by the USPS as not deliverable or no mail receptacle. I have suggested renewable forwarding orders. You can generate revenue with my suggestion with no investment. Thank you.

    Sep 28, 2020
  • anon

    I have to agree with Gary. I have a home in Breckenridge Colorado. I try to put my PO Box on everything. However due to circumstances beyond my control I have packages without a PO Box number going back-and-forth between Breckenridge and Denver for over two weeks. Our local post office does not do home delivery. I have to have a PO Box at a cost of over $100 a year. In addition they save money by not doing home delivery. It would probably take someone less than 60 seconds to look up my post office box. I think it would be a real cost savings to just do this rather than send packages back-and-forth over and over again. I assume the objective is to teach us a lesson, but the cost to the Postal Service way exceeds that.

    Oct 03, 2020
  • anon

    Drones released from the tops of the delivery vans themselves would be the best. Workhorse electric vans would be providing green solutions that are also forward thinking. Let's get this moving so American's can be proud of their USPS again!

    Sep 28, 2020
  • anon

    If there are packages larger than customer's mailbox, perhaps a preprinted form could be in mail boxes to pick up at their local post office.

    Sep 28, 2020

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