The U.S. Postal Service has almost 80,000 rural delivery routes serviced by some 133,000 rural letter carriers. For some of those routes, USPS provides the vehicle; for others, the carrier uses a private vehicle and receives a maintenance allowance from the Postal Service for wear and tear. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the Postal Service paid out nearly $583 million in maintenance allowances — a rise of $71 million, or 13 percent, over FY 2015.
Not long ago, the Postal Service started converting some private-vehicle rural routes to USPS-vehicle routes, estimating the change would save $888 million over six years. For a recent audit, we reviewed a sample of these completed conversions nationwide as well as future conversions, and found that the Postal Service’s strategy for these changes was generally effective. We also discovered a few shortcomings.
For instance, maximum savings weren’t realized because USPS wasn’t implementing conversions in a timely manner, and we determined that some of the future conversions wouldn’t be the most cost-effective. We made a couple recommendations to improve the process, and Postal Service management agreed with both.
Are you a rural letter carrier, or do you know one? How does a USPS-vehicle route compare with the private-vehicle route? Does one seem more cost-effective from your point of view?