The Postal Service moves mail using planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, bicycles, hovercrafts, subways and even mules. It operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world with more than 219,000 vehicles. Its fleet of trucks drives nearly 4.1 million miles and uses more than 400,000 gallons of fuel daily. To put this in perspective, when fuel costs increase by one penny, the cost to the Postal Service increases by more than $8 million annually.
The expense of providing this transportation infrastructure is staggering. In 2007, it cost the Postal Service $6.5 billion — mostly for air and highway transportation. This was an increase of 7.6 percent compared to 2006. Yet mail volume has recently suffered a sharp decline. If volume declines continue, the Postal Service could find itself operating and funding a transportation network that cannot be efficiently sustained.
How can the Postal Service’s transportation network make the best of mail volume declines? What are the most promising opportunities to reduce transportation costs? For example, should the Postal Service
Develop partnerships with other businesses that transport goods?
Reduce highway transportation routes that overlap?
Continue to eliminate underutilized trips?
Make more use of other, less costly forms of transportation such as rail or maritime?
Reduce its reliance on air transportation or shift volumes among carriers to ensure the lowest cost is obtained for responsive service?
Relax the delivery timeframe standards?
What do you think?