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?

Comments (197)

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  • anon

    My route was converted to one with a government vehicle. They should all be this way. There is no problem with a carrier not coming to work due to a broken down POV. It saves carriers backs, hips, legs, and arms which will cause less payouts for health insurance or workers comp in the future. It helps retain RCAs who have trouble maintaining a route vehicle for only 1 guaranteed day per week. It also helps retain and train new hire RCAs because the training can be standardized for on street delivery. This eliminates hiring and training costs that are lost when a new RCA quits.

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    I think it would be cost saving over time. New vehicles shouldn't require much maintenance. I would like to have an llv.

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    POV. But I'm not speaking just in terms of cost effectiveness. I'm saying POV for multiple reasons. As rural carriers we are in very rural, secluded areas. The closest place to me to provide vehicle maintenance on a government issued vehicle is an hour away from my furthest point in my route. As a result the time spent waiting to be rescued is astronomical compared to the mechanic that lives in my town who can be where I am in ten minutes. As a carrier with a POV, I can be selective on my choice for a vehicle. I can also choose to put studded snow tires on my vehicle in the winter and climb Mount Everest in it if I want to. So as you can see, there are so many other factors involved in a pov vs government issued and cost efficiency isn't the only thing. It's also about reliability, function of vehicle, and time that may be lost on a route waiting for a replacement government vehicle. Honestly, neither one is cost efficient for the carrier. I suggest instead of providing rural carriers with government vehicles, offer an incentive to have the POV vehicles be converted to right hand drive with the kit we can purchase. They don't have as many of the right hand drive vehicles available for sale these days. But government vehicles to Rural carriers in the back roads of America? Seems like a bad idea to me.

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    I think that going from POV to GOV would be mutually cost effective for carrier and USPS. With the rising cost of everything from gas, tires, car parts and mechanics it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a vehicle. This is especially difficult for RCA’s that might only work a few days a month. With that being said, if the GOV provided vehicle isn’t adequate for the route, it isn’t worth having for either side. A rear wheel drive van was the worst idea that could have been implemented for a country route. There are other issues I’ve heard about but that is the biggest. If the vehicle won’t move on a slick surface then the mail won’t be able to be delivered.

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    I am a regular rural carrier. Cost comparison from my personal experience: I am losing money every year because repairs more than just general maintenance (transmissions, engines, rear end). Right hand drive vehicles are very difficult to come by and when i did find one that is in decent condition, it's out of my price range. I have come close to quitting many times because I cannot afford to keep up with the cost of repairs. Employee acquisition and retention: Finding people willing to spend money on a vehicle that only guarantees 1 day a week is almost impossible. Subs and regulars are leaving in droves because the expense is not worth it. If my office had USPS vehicles, we would not have lost a great carrier and we would not have as many issues with hiring new carriers. Vehicle type: My route would require a four wheel drive. The LLV and Metris would struggle with any kind of moisture. I have a 107 mile route and 80% is dirt road.

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    I think there would be several reasons that converting to usps owned vehicles would be cost effective. First being that we carriers would not have to struggle to find rhd vehicles or find someone to convert a lhd vehicle, and to also be granted leave to be able to take a vehicle to a mechanic of our choice for said conversion. Second, carriers wouldnt have to struggle to get approved leave time to get vehicles maintenance because we are so short staffed and cannot all work on our own cars and have to schedule maintenance when the mechanic can get to it. And I also believe we would have a better chance at hiring and retaining rca's because they wouldnt have to figure out how to afford a vehicle and the insurance and maintenance it takes to do our jobs, and some of them only work 1 day a week. But I also know that if usps vehicles are to be used on rural routes they have to be able to withstand the wear and tear the rural routes will cause so we aren't sitting around waiting for a back up vehicle to arrive when they break down. And the usps will definitely need to implement more mechanics to be servicing such vehicles, not rely on dealers servicing them especially when the brand of vehicle doesnt have service techs within 100 miles of every post office

    Feb 08, 2022
  • anon

    I believe it could be beneficial for both the carriers and the postal service if the vehicles were better suited to the truly Rural Routes. Awd or 4 wheel drive similar to a Jeep would be best. Not the Metris Vans.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    My route is rural. Not with Amish mud roads and creek bed crossings but I have roads that you must get near to the edge. Sometime my wheel must leave pavement. That’s a problem in the Metris. The metris can’t get out of it. End of story. My Jeep, just pop it into 4 wheel and I’m unstuck without damage or ruts. The metris was so poorly designed to carry mail, it’s shameful. Don’t stack it over the window. How else am I going to carry the mail and ton of sprs that are exactly little wish packets. Shameful. You can’t even put a tray between the tray and the seat. Yes it’s nice and sits and drives well. That’s it. It randomly turns on by itself. It’s electronics are sketchy. The tires are CRAP. The rear wheel what a joke!! We don’t get a ton of snow and ice but what a joke in any weather beside DRY. I’d rather have a payment to make sure I am SAFE in all situations. Not just when it’s dry. We know the postal service prides on safety but do they really? It’s all about the numbers. So let me do my own numbers. Give us a choice. So many in our office want an assigned vehicle while others don’t!

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I’m currently on a POV route that is 45 miles. I love the extra income the EMA provides but for efficiency I love days when I can use a company vehicle it’s just easier because my route is so far out it’s difficult to have to make second trips and sometimes I have large pickups and my vehicle just isn’t big enough.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I have pov route also in the past had a Llv route. I think it is more cost effective to have pov routes. The llv and Mercedes don’t do very good on rock roads. Your need 4x4 on some routes when the weather is bad!!!

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    POV routes cost not only the post office more money, but also the carriers. The up-keep on vehicles is so expensive. Especially with used RHD vehicles, which is what most of us buy. Do away with ALL POV routes and save us all the hassle.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    That a very complicated question on postal vehicle vs pov now when I was hired I bought into it whole heartedly and purchased new rhd vehicle but most can’t or want .The big difference is comfortablity do I feel safe in your government contract built by lowest bidder vehicle and answer is no ,do I feel safer and comfortable in my pov yes,it is a give and take it could pay on some small routes to replace povs but some bigger routes it could be a maintenance /repair nightmare,due to maintenance being overwhelmed due to increase in postal vehicles while always short staffed taking hours to arrive on a route to fix a simple flat.just one example there are to many variables to say which is actually better in long run.All I no at moment is no thank you I’ll keep what I got

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Private vehicle’s are the only way for a true rural route to be delivered the Postal Service does not need to provide vehicles for these routes the metris van is a complete failure it’s not suitable for rural delivery Postal Service has not provided enough proper maintenance or back up vehicles to prevent the delay of the mail when A route has been assigned a metris van I suggest contacting Honda to see if they would be interested in manufacturing a right hand drive vehicle for the United States Postal Service similar to the ones that were provided by Subaru years ago jeep wranglers are not reliable enough as well and should not be considered the only choice

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I personally would love to have a vehicle placed on my route cause then I wouldn’t have to maintain a vehicle and make my life less stressful

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I’m a rural carrier in new waterford Ohio. We have 2 k routes. One route has a metris. I have been waiting for my metris for over a year now. My office needs it! We can’t keep rcas because of the responsibility to keep a car running. Bench seat cars are no longer available. Which makes it hard to find a vehicle to use for the route. There are 2 routes in my office and one has a metris. I am on the second wave of vehicles that are supposed to be appointed out. I need a gov vehicle asap!

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I’m POV 62 miles. Maybe 5 miles of dirt road. I have 2 mail vehicles. Insurance, tax, brakes, tires, oil change and misc yearly work that pops up plus the gas I use…. I profit about $5000 per yr from EMA. Been doing this 13 yrs now. It would be a hit to lose that extra $ but not having to deal with the maintenance would be worth it for me. So it wouldn’t be cost efficient for me to have a GOV and over 10 yrs, that’s roughly $50,000 tax free profit. Not sure of the cost of a metris van but I’d think the post office would be saving money if I had one.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I believe it would be more cost effective for the post office to convert all rural routes to government supplied vehicles. please do away with the ema & provide all routes with vehicles. you would be able to maintain employees.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    BEST vehicle for rural routes are By FAR LLV! Hands down No question about it! It's turning radius is uncomparible. Easier to get to box. Much harder and takes much more time to deliver out of POV or Metrix!

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I was so excited to get the new metris van. Having no more repairs was suppose to take stress off me. Instead I have more stress. I have a 132 mile route and my metris goes nowhere in the snow. I was stuck at my 3rd box Friday and it was plowed out. I would have missed 90 percent of my deliveries Friday if an rca with 4x4 hadn’t take half the route. I still missed 215 deliveries between the two of us. This is unacceptable to put a rear wheel drive in snow country. It’s so stressful and terrible customer service. And to top it off we have carriers smoking in these brand new vehicles. They have felt ceilings which hold the smoke in. I refuse to drive one that’s been smoked in. This is not suppose to be allowed yet it’s happening everywhere and no one is doing anything about it. I never thought in all my years I’d be expected to work in a smoking environment. I’ve made a complaint to my local congressman as well. I was brought a metris on Black Friday and when I opened it it almost knocked me over it smelled so bad. I thought I’d have an anxiety attack. I cannot deal with any cigarette smoke. Why is this being allowed?? One time I was brought an llv to drive when my metris was broke down and I went through 5 llvs in two weeks because they all had issues. I filed a safety grievance over it. The stress getting one of these wasn’t worth it. Id rather fix my own 4x4.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Postal owned would over all be more cost effective and convenient. I have to purchase a vehicle I can deliver mail in. My sub if I ever get also will have to get a vehicle to deliver mail in. Getting e vehicle to deliver mail in is a difficult task. I have had to go out of state to find one (twice). I have been getting paid overtime for a year because it's hard to find someone willing to use a pov for delivery. I could even get a day off if only I had a postal vehicle.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I'm an Rca with my own car. The newer vans seem to break down more than the older ones. But it's hard to find car, van, or jeeps you can buy to drive on mail route. It cost alot to buy the kits to have brakes and steering wheel put on other side. The post office doesn't pay you enough to do this. In long run think it's better with you giving the vans to the routes.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I have been a rural carrier for 12 years. I have found that the government provided vehicles that have been provided LLV are unreliable, in addition to being a health and safety Hazzard. The amount of dust the LLV allows in is unhealthy. Blowing mud from your nose for days and the suspension and parts are under maintained and worn out. In addition the narrow front makes handling on gravel roads sketchy. Unable to do the speed limit and slowing down mail delivery and the carrier’s do not get compensated correctly because of the evaluated system. The Metris is the VFM's job security vehicle. Windows, sensors, doors, internal controls get filled with dust and stop working. The fueling turns into a headache. Something fills with dust and prevents normal fueling. Makes the fuel pump shut of every time you pull the handle. Wasting time and money. I have preferred my POV. Yes, it can be expensive for me to maintain. And yes ,EMA doesn't always cover the expenses. But I know that when the maintenance is done correctly. I most likely will not be stranded on the side of the road Waiting for the VMF for hours. This includes a simple flat tire that I can change if necessary. In addition, I live in Iowa where we have some bad winter's. I have been able to perform my duties because of my well maintained vehicle with the right tires and do it safely. This task is very difficult with a government vehicle with rear wheel drive.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Unless you are going to provide 4 wheel or all wheel drive vehicles, I’d rather drive my POV. Our rural routes in Montana in the winter needs a dependable vehicle that can make it through snow and slush. The only upside would be that we maybe able to get RCA’s hired and retain them. Since they wouldn’t have the cost of converting or buying a right hand drive.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I would love a vehicle provided to me instead of me maintaining my personal vehicle. Please give me one, o would be so grateful.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    The post office does not take care of their vehicles while it may save money for the post office personal safety for carriers should be their first concern. Using a pov is safer then driving around in non 4wd vehicles with bald tires sucking in exhaust fumes

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I have an LLV and I like that a lot more than driving my personal vehicle. Only thing I wish is that my LLV was taken better care of. I also wish for being on a rural route I wasn’t sent out in a toaster in the summer. Rural routes need vehicles that have air conditioning. The po needs to quit wasting money on crap vehicles and get good sturdy vehicles that can handle the rural routes.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Personally I would like a government vehicle for my route. However, if it wasn’t a four wheel drive, I would have a lot of unhappy customers due to being unable to deliver packages to their home. I have a 99 mile route which is 75% gravel/unpaved. Metris van wouldn’t last a year on my route.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    One of the biggest problems is that the metris and the ngdv are both ill-suited to truly rural routes. Ground clearance is insufficient and the rwd metris suffers from insufficient traction on any surface other than dry pavement, not even touching on the poor reliability model mercedes are known for. Many rural offices have insufficient space and infrastructure to accommodate the full electric fleet that has been proposed. With the epa estimated fuel economy of the ngdv and the repair costs of modern vehicles the post office cannot touch my running costs of 22 cents per mile I get in my 1995 jeep cherokee. In summary, the metris was one of the worst out of the box vehicles that could of been put on rural routes, the ngdv needs to be brought back to the drawing board, and it may never be cost-effective to convert some routes from pov.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I’m honestly at a 50/50, it really boils done to what is best for the company. My route is 78 miles. Personally the biggest Benefits to me are the heat and all wheel drive in the winter.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    If you get to you a POV then you at least to get a vehicle that’s safer. Working heat and A/C. Headlights that work. No water leaking all over you while it’s freezing out.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Probably cheaper to fix a Jeep than a Mercedes.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I feel like the EMA has not been adjusted to correctly reflect the costs it actually takes to drive a POV. I was on the route for 8 months and went through 3 sets of tires and 6 full sets of brakes, and I was just an RCA. The EMA earned didn't even come close to the cost of repairs. Let's not forget, the stress if the POV is out of service, then you're out of work. Nor does EMA cover the dangers of sitting in the middle and not being able to be properly restrained. I've seen too many carriers killed from straddling and not being able to be belted in.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I’m a RCA on a rural route, I’m all for getting POV’s as long as they can get through snow and mud. Most rural carriers have 4 wheel drives because that is what we need to finish our routes certain times of the year.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    POV make more sense in extreme rural areas. Having 4wheel drive and higher vehicle clearance allows for easier delivery on dirt and gravel roads.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    The ema ant enough to cover the cost of parts gas the extra insurance plus break down time in a pov is on us if we break down in there’s we get paid

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I used a POV for years then finally got an LLV … not sure how anyone can find a vehicle large enough to hold all the parcels we get .. it is much easier in an LLV HANDS DOWN LLV is Best

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Here’s your problem. And it all goes to why rural majority “POV” offices are struggling to find help. Who wants to come to a job that requires them to spend $2K-$3K right off to do the job after they’re hired? These offices will never have a full house of RCAs with this situation. Worse yet, the regulars who have put in their RCA time are working way more than they should have to from lack of help. RCAs are burned out and on the verge of quitting, if they haven’t already from lack of help. As far as a POV vs a GOV, the POV EMA isn’t enough to barely cover putting gas in it. Y’all forget, or don’t have a clue. Besides gas, there’s expensive repairs such as alignments, two sets of brakes(front/rear) and two sets of tires on average a year. That’s not even coming close to the suspension repairs that are a guarantee yearly. And to pay a shop to do the work. Luckily l’m a mechanic by trade or I’d be broke just from shop repairs. Then there’s that thing called insurance. Y’all really think it’s cheap having a “work” car covered for insurance? Think again. And what’s worse is having a vehicle that isn’t big enough because of all this Amazon that’s being put on us. There’s another $10K minimum to buy a worn out van just to deliver all those parcels. A good one, you’re looking at a minimum $20K plus. So the EMA might as well be called gas money. Because “Equipment Maintenance” is as far from what that money covers. As you can see, GOVs is a benefit to the rural carrier more than what your numbers on paper show. Get out from behind your desk and come do what we do. Drive your POV on these rural roads and then you’ll see what I mean. Go make two and three trips to get all this ridiculous amount of Amazon delivered. This job use to be an “in demand” career. Now it’s just hire anyone who can foot the bill on a used car to do a job that EMA couldn’t cover if it was a $1 per mile. Y’all really need to wake up and realize the struggle us POV carriers deal with. No help and expensive repairs. And a vehicle nowhere near big enough to deliver all this massive amount of Amazon that’s out of control. So that’s why we need vans!!! I seriously doubt any of y’all will read this or even care. That’s kinda the morale us POV carriers have right now. But if you do, I’d love to meet DeJoy or whomever is in control of GOV distribution/EMA to let them know exactly what we deal with everyday.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I delivered mail as a Rural Carrier for 14 years. 7 in a POV, 7 with a LLV. I made more money using my own vehicle, per paycheck. You get paid a better rate on your DPS compared to when you deliver out of a LLV. The downside is all money you have to spend on maintaining your own vehicle, plus a back up vehicle too. I was very grateful to get a LLV. So even though were smaller I was better off. So yes it is cheaper for USPS to provide a LLV. The problem is rural routes are rough, you have hills, snow, and two lane state highways. It's not safe to out there sorting while driving box to box on a rural route. Trust me once you're in a LLV, you are expected to take DPS to the street, you will be working out of 3-4 bundles , sorting as you deliver. Spending almost twice amount of time on the street, as you did with a POV. Of course the parcel volume no longer fits in a POV. I have no idea how anyone can fit today's parcel volume in a POV now. LLV's are not safe on rural routes either, too slow, bad in snow, blind spots ETC. I had too many close calls, driving an LLV. To me it's not safe. Glad I resigned 3 years ago. I think USPS does save money converting POV routes to LLV routes, but LLV's are not safe on rural routes. Good luck to you all.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I am a rural carrier with a POV route. I would not be opposed to having a government vehicle, but the ones that the USPS currently provides (LLV, metris, etc) could not do my route year round. 4WD is a necessity in many areas that we deliver. If the USPS is serious about converting POV routes to GOV routes, then they need to get serious about the types of vehicles that are needed to perform the job safely and effectively and provide said vehicles. I feel they may need different vehicles for different areas of the country and until they do that, it is a fool’s errand to try and force the current vehicle options in certain areas.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I love my Llv route

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    It has become increasingly expensive to have a pov for my route. I am expected to maintain a vehicle, but can’t get a day off to service my vehicle. Then, when I break down on my route, I get in trouble for not providing a vehicle. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? We can’t keep RCAS because they don’t have appropriate vehicles, or can’t afford to fix their vehicle that they beat the crap out of on these very rural routes. Give me a Postal vehicle and you’ll take away a lot of the stressors of this job, and then maybe I’ll finally be able to get a RCA.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    POV is most cost effective.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I started in a POV about cried when they gave me a llv but now I love it. With the amount of parcels we receive it is a necessity. Plus love not worrying about upkeep and maintenance.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Having a government vehicle is much easier on carriers, because we aren’t responsible for the upkeep. The problem with LLV’s and the new Mercedes’ vehicles, is that they are rear wheel drive and handle terrible in snow. I live in a state that has winters which last 7-8 months. We need vehicles that are snow capable, and that have heat.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I think getting rid of POVs will help keep RCAs and it would be more cost effective. The rural carrier wouldn't have to worry about the upkeep of a vehicle, rural carriers and subs wouldn't have to worry about having RHD. Less call outs due to broken down vehicles.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I use a pov and the amount of packages I receive on just a 43k I’m required to make second trips that costs the usps money plus that fact if I break done you end up paying me taking leave and a rca. Plus it seems to be an issue hiring people that are willing to use their own vehicle. I could never understand why they ok’d gov vehicles on auxiliary’s when you have full routes making second trips 2 or 3 times a week

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I understand it is costing the post office millions by having the allowance for rural carriers using povs. However, for me personally as an RCA it is costing me. I am not receiving enough to keep up with the costly upkeep and gas. I have to pay to get unstuck when forced to deliver during a blizzard. It is just not worth it having my own vehicle. I want routes that use postal vehicles.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    Love using a pov vehicle. I want absolutely nothing to do with llvs or the metris or any other usps supplied vehicle. I do my job best in my own custom vehicle that fits ME!

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    I recently received the Metris, after 26 years POV I can say it is harder to find vehicles to serve POV routes. The Metris is easy to use however I do miss my 4x4, a rear wheel drive vehicle is not practical for winter driving conditions. I am glad I no longer have to worry about providing a vehicle.

    Feb 07, 2022
  • anon

    It is a better work experience for the carrier for sure. It is also more professional and brings more confidence in the consumer when a official government vehicle shows up on the middle of no where to deliver their parcel. Roll them out to all rural routes. We can use our personal vehicles on the heavy snow days.

    Feb 07, 2022

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