on Jul 28th, 2014 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 92 comments
 

What should the postal vehicle of the future look like? The U.S. Postal Service recently put that question to its carriers and vehicle maintenance personnel and is currently reviewing the feedback. It’s an important question because the delivery fleet is aging and the Postal Service needs to quickly replace it. In fact, our recent audit on the topic found the current fleet can only meet delivery needs through fiscal year 2017 – and that assumes no unexpected decrease in vehicle inventory or increase in the number of motorized routes.

About 142,000 long-life vehicles (LLVs) out of the 190,000-vehicle total delivery fleet are near or have exceeded their expected service life. Replacing these aging vehicles is daunting, particularly given the Postal Service’s financial constraints.

But fleet replacement isn’t just a major challenge; it’s also a big opportunity. Because the LLVs are up to 27 years old, they aren’t as fuel efficient as newer models. They also lack many of the safety features now considered standard for vehicle fleets, such as back-up cameras, front airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The next generation of vehicles can incorporate the latest safety and environmental bells and whistles, which will protect employees, cut down on fuel costs, and help the Postal Service meet its sustainability goals. Also, given the growth in packages, new vehicle designs could address the challenges of larger and irregularly shaped items.

The Postal Service has a short- and long-term vehicle fleet acquisition strategy, but we found the plan lacks details such as vehicle specifications and green technology features. Also, despite 3 years of effort, the plan has not been approved or fully funded due primarily to the Postal Service’s lack of capital. Given the urgent need to upgrade the fleet, we are encouraging the Postal Service to make some incremental purchases while formalizing a more specific long-term plan for the next generation of LLVs.

What are your thoughts on future postal vehicles? What should they look like? What safety and environmental features or other technologies would you like the Postal Service to add? 

92 Comments


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Bicycles and Trikes were possible. Then motor trikes, then super fuel efficient LLVs.

In 5 years, 5 mail trucks have crapped out in my driveway or on my street. They have to send another vehicle, transfer mail and tow away beater. What a waste.

Thanks for the suggestion. Many European foreign posts use bicycles and scooters, due to their environmentally friendly emissions. Not sure how they fit all those Amazon packages on the back, but would that work for some of the shorter, urban Postal Service routes?

Intermittent windshield wipers - PLEASE!! and a cup holder.
Racks or shelves in the back - way too much wasted space in the back of an LLV.

While working in SW Florida, we experience oppressive heat during our summer, a Steel Mesh, or some type of Kevlar, similar to the pull down hurricane screens for our back door would be great for air movement,. Secured during delivery, and while parked the actual door is down and locked. Just a thought. Tired of stewing in my own juices...

Hey Paula Great idea about the back door, believe it or not I've already implemented this program in my LLV it is made of expanded 1/2 " metal, works prefect. Email for a photo.

Part of the problem is the way you self-entitled clowns use and take care of them. I have personally witness our local carrier drive to EACH and EVERY house, stop the truck, turn it off, deliver to ONE house, then start it again and drive to the next house. Of COURSE that makes for extra wear and tear. And he's not the only one as I've seen others doing the same. When you inefficient, overly self-serving incompetent and unintelligent clowns learn to operate like it's YOUR money you're wasting, instead of ours, then we'll feel sorry for you, and understand your problems.

The postal service requires the carrier to turn off the vehicle each and every time the carrier steps out of it. Now, on your street, maybe walking to each and every house would be more efficient. Also, each time we stop (to deliver) we are required to pull the hand brakes and curb the wheels. I am a carrier.

I'm 50 years old, for most of my life, Mail Carriers carried the mail and actually (gasp) WALKED and delivered to streets full of houses in a row. Then the inefficiency, laziness and greed took over. Turning it off is fine, but must you drive to EVERY SINGLE HOUSE??? Walking won't kill ya.

First we are required to shut it off at every stop and as for walking some routes that would work but for my route it would be totally inefficient as /i deliver well over 100 parcels a day which would mean first i Would have to walk the letters and flats then drive up and down the street to deliver the parcels for that street since there would be no way to carry them with me. So now it takes more time to deliver the same amount of mail as I have had to cover the same area twice.

But you're not required to stop at every house. Nice try, though. Funny, mailmen before never had this problem, and got paid less. Go figure

I drive an FFV which I love. It is much better than the LLV, but when my truck is down and i have to drive one of those unpleasant LLV's i always say that they need a design where you dont have to climb up a big step to get to the gas pedals and make a truck that's not as loud. The FFV's are loud too, but it's a powerful good type of loud. The LLV's are loud but they have that dying, struggling loud sound that sounds like they have no muffler, and is incredibly annoying.

Electric vehicles are the perfect candidate for replacement in urban and suburban areas. I've been driving EVs for the past 3 years. The one that comes to mind right away is the Nissan e-NV200, which is their small delivery van fitted with the powertrain from the LEAF. They already manufacture RHD NV200s for the Japanese home market, but the vans for the USPS could be put together alongside the LEAF at their plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The Ford Transit Connect EV would have been a good choice, but unfortunately Ford has discontinued it due to a supplier going out of business.

EVs have a higher up-front cost, but the long term costs are dramatically lower since there is very little routine maintenance required and fuel efficiency exceeds 100MPGe in the city (plus no lost energy when stopped because there is no idling necessary in an EV).

Air conditioning in a postal delivery vehicle is unrealistic given current financial conditions. But a little insulation between the engine and the carrier certainly shouldn't be! I hope they don't come up with a larger design. The sliding doors, small size, and short wheel base are essential for maneuvering and efficient delivery. Also, if they want us to have our headlights on all the time, they really should be wired that way!

All wheel, or at least front wheel drive. Intermittent wipers, a cheap am/fm radio, so u won't die of boredom on mounted routes. Retractable shelves. AC is a waste, of fuel and it won't stay cool in & out. Maybe a plastic holder for COA cards, hold cards. 3849's Pens. Safety Air Bags, AL Brakes, a seat belt that dosen't go across your neck. A tray system that u can fit tubs under. Room for DPS trays in the left door well.

Any redesigned USPS delivery truck should include: A) At a minimum, have posi-traction (both rear wheels have power) or front wheel drive with traction control. All wheel drive suggested as best. B) Insulation barrier between the engine/transmission/catalytic converter and the vehicle interior. I put a thermometer on the floor of my LLV on the hottest upstate NY summer days and it would max out at 124*F. C) "Normal" size windows. Current LLV's are like driving around a greenhouse in the summer sun. D) A built-in, bright, LED flashing/warning light in the rear. The hazard flashers are so ineffective. E) Built in racks to hold trays in the rear cargo area. F) Current auto industry safety items such as a back-up camera, four wheel anti-lock brakes, airbags etc.. G) A "hotter" heater with a real distribution system and a real defroster. H) Driver pleasing features....air conditioning (leased USPS mini vans here have air conditioning and are used on park and loop routes), a 12v power outlet and how about a darn cup holder?

Many of these additions sound sensible and valid. Being a CCA who now has to work on Sundays for Amazon parcel delivery I would like to see the new fleet be equipped with shelves much like in the 2-tons we currently have or netting bins for parcel grouping. I outfit each LLV I use on Sundays with my own netting as a means to keep the parcels in some order so they do not get into disarray as I clunk around town.
I would go further and suggest some sort of tray or bin be equipped on the new fleet that allows carriers to safely store their lunches and provisions.

Air Conditioning for carriers who work in extreme heat areas that have excessive heat warnings from the national weather service. Shelves in the back that have a place for dps, a place for residual trays, a place for ads, a place for tubs, and shelves for parcels, etc. The front area should have a place for tubs for outgoing mail & bring back mail. Also a storage compartment for hold cards, pens, supplies, etc. Should have air bags for our safety in case of an accident, factory tinted windows to help with glare from sun & heat and it also helps from everything burning you in the summer like the seat/steering wheel/door. A place to cradle the scanner. A charging station for our personal cell phones since mngmt likes to call our cell phones while we're on the street and since we have to CALL by 3 pm & by that time our cells are dying of battery life and we can't call by 3 pm and the rest is history. A cup holder for our water/soda/coffee so it don't spill all over the mail. A walkway to the back of truck to get parcels so we don't have to climb over crouched down and throw our back out. Power windows would be nice cause customers seem to think we have power windows and rolling it up and down manually from a business delivery to a park and loop delivery to an over the curb delivery, we have to get out and go to the other side and roll it up or down and in a different delivery situation we have to go back out to other side of truck and roll it up or down because we need air and there's no AC! Windows in the back and on the side so we CAN SEE CARS around us more clearly. There's so much more but that'll be a good start.

I hope that new vehicle come with AC! Arizona 115' temp we really need AC! Plus cups holder I always spill my drinks when I turn LLV..

They should have ac, more room for parcels and more leg room! Those of us over 6ft are cramped.

It would be nice if they incorporated real-life suggestions from the carriers, but I can see from the design that they really did NOT take carriers' needs into consideration. This vehicle is larger/longer than an FFV meaning it'll be difficult to drive on certain roads [such as taking the turn from Walker to Upper Vine in Charleston]. They have done away with the window behind the right front window [a feature of the FFV], meaning it's harder for the carrier to see vehicles coming up from behind.

It sits lower than an LLV or FFV, meaning steep bumps will drag the belly of the truck and may damage the exhaust system. The larger front window makes for excess light coming into the vehicle, blinding a carrier who is facing the sun. It will also increase the heat from the sun's rays, which a little fan can't dispel. And what is the vehicle's construction? LLVs and FFVs are primarily aluminum bodies meaning they're fairly light; if this thing is made of steel, it's going to take more gas and more maintenance than the older vehicles.

Last but probably most importantly, there is no door on the tray side of the vehicle. How is a carrier to load trays... through the back? That's not safe for the carrier due to lifting the trays from the floor and placing them 3' or more onto the mail shelf.

I think, like passenger transportation being thrust forward, UBER allows a person requiring transportation to hook up
via the internet. The USPS should employ UBER type technologies to rent/lease delivery vehicles instead of buying, managing, and administering their transportation requirements. Buying vehicles is silly as the advent of cluster boxes should end the silly -need of postal delivery vehicles.

For safety features. I would recommend that all new Postal vehicles that turns on headlight automatic when in use. And yellow light flashes when doing mounted/dismount deliveries. Automatic stop when backing up and there's object in blind spot behind you.

Please A/C please!! Cupholder also. Thank you!

The new vehicles need a back up monitoring system not a distracting camera. These monitor systems can be found on many new vehicle and alert the driver if any objects that are behind the vehicle. All wheel drive models should be available to areas/ routes that require them, not all of them. AC is going to happen we already have it in all the mini vans, tractors and cargo box's. A low oil warning light is a must, 90% of all LLV motor failures can be attributed to low on oil! Custom building a vehicle body comes with its downfalls, the LLV had so many modifications after it was produced I lost count. using a production vehicle with some slight modifications make more sense. Safety features like air bags, and anti lock brakes are going to be standard no mater who builds the chassis. The LLV has been a good vehicle compared to the old jeeps, they were all off the road and junked after 15 years due to rot.. The only reason the LLV has lasted so long is due to the aluminium body ( the new vehicle should be aluminium) and of course the quality service from your friendly VMF.

uber

Here's your answer. Don't buy any assets.
It's not like mail has to be delivered every day.
End of Recommendation!

In regards to the Ford transit Connect......OIG response was that right hand drive is needed for delivery.....Ford makes right hand drive....Google ford transit connect for sale in England...you'll see lots of right hand drive.

Ford, USPS and Rural Carrier union should cut a deal for carriers to buy right hand drive transit connects..... Win, win, win situation......Nah, that would be too easy.

Most important is front wheel drive. My route is 50 plus miles in the northeast. A good front end (wear too many tires out). A good heater and ventalation system. A taller ceiling so I can stand, easier on the back. The intermittent wipers would be great also. Alot of vehicles come standard with a radio.

Need to be able to turn these things around one in picture looked huge cant imagine getting into some of my places where I turn around in small spaces? This is why we now have inset tires so we can turn around on a dime. Air heater radio ?

Do a survey in the office. Why have we not heard about this? Not all parts of the country need 4WD, all parts of the country need AC. Better organization in front where all the action takes place. A better working tray for more than 3 trays of mail, or a 4th bundle. Spots for tubs for collection mail. A place for your slough tray, pens, forms, cup holder, etc. Definitely better heat and air flow. A radio would be nice too.

AIR CONDITIONERS PLEASE

Why not just use Ford Transit Connects?
Fuel efficient
cheap
FWD, so they handle snow well
large storage capacity
cheap parts because they're based on the Ford Focus
And I think they're good looking.

New or old vehicles, USPS should use the AlphaTherm Heated Wash system in the cold climates for safety reasons. The drivers spend too much time in the ice and snow.

If the post office wants to save money, why did they force me to take a broken-down old LLV on a RURAL route when I had 4 right hand drive four wheel drive at home???? You can't leave a dog in a hot car but they can stick an old woman in one.

This issue is mute - sadly, someone likely got a huge kickback from the Dodge Ram vans that lack visibility, increase the risk of injuries to the carrier by 1) exiting the vehicle on the street side rather than the curbside; 2) the back hatch and rotator cuff issues resulting from reaching overhead to pull the door closed repeatedly; 3) working from the curbside, outside the vehicle, during inclement weather especially, but at any time; 4) virtually eliminating the efficiency and ability of letter carriers to perform the duties that they are dedicated to effectively completing.

To me the most important features would be: more floor space, and less blind spots if not none at all. Theyes should also be able to carry more parcels than mail since that is what our company is leaning toward. This should be obvious after the volume of parcels we had this Christmas season. I have been with the USPS for 16 year and I have never had to work on a Sunday ever before. Not even when I was a PTF.

USPS should revert back to being the US Post Office Department. Can't be profitable anyway. I don't see what USPS is trying to prove. Going private would eventually do away with the service altogether sooner or later. Let the United States have The US Post Office Department back. There was once a sense of pride being a postal worker. Now, nothing. Just another job. Very overworked employees. I basically considered myself a mule.

Since the Grumman LLV is an aluminum body and can out-last the chassis it is attached to, maybe any replacement could utilize a stripped chassis and re-mount the existing fleets' aluminum body to it....

How about adding a mail slot. My two local mail boxes are gone, so if I miss my mail carrier I must drive over to the post office. The slot should be just that with a box or a bag attached inside the truck body.

As a rural letter carrier, I believe the next generation of LLV should be able to switch from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive. In addition, it should be able to handle the large capacity of mail as well as parcels during the Holiday rush and the every day parcel volume. A better heating / cooling system needs to be incorporated into the vehicle as well. Other features I'd like to see included are: airbags, better widow defrosters, maybe a small lighting system for potential night deliveries, maybe a radio. As far as shape and body design, it needs to be bigger and roomier to walk in the back and have shelves for mail and parcels.

I like the NEW city van that GM is coming out with looks like about the same size as the Grumman and I think it comes with the 4 cylinder engine so it SHOULD have good fuel economy just a suggestion

More careful attention should be placed upon the exterior mirrors systems that are placed on the vehicles. Many operators of the current LLV that I have talked with say it is impossible to drive the vehicles safely because of the inadequate exterior mirrors that have been placed on the truck. New Mirror technology for such vehicles and it should be explored before simply accepting the outdated mirror technology that will be placed upon the vehicles by the manufacturers who get the bid on the new vehicles.

Air conditioning please! Its like being inside of a tin can and always 20 degrees hotter in the vehicle even when its a 100 degrees outside. And all wheel drive for the snowy winters.

Air conditioning, all wheel or four wheel drive, and airbags would be an added improvement over the current piece of crap vehicles that we driving now.

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