September 16, 2020 (RISC-WP-20-008)

  • Package delivery in rural and urban environments comes with challenges not experienced in suburban environments, such as numerous apartment buildings in urban areas or long distances between delivery points in rural areas. 
  • The Postal Service could make package delivery more efficient by installing more parcel lockers, encouraging larger curbside mailboxes, and by better tracking parcel-related operational data. 

OIG research found that package delivery in rural and urban areas comes with operational challenges not seen in suburban areas. For example, in rural areas, delivery points may be far apart, or a customer’s mailbox may be located far from their home. In urban areas, there are numerous apartment buildings that may require delivering packages to individual apartments. The Postal Service also faces stiff competition in urban areas from established carriers and start-up services alike. These factors pose significant challenges to package delivery efficiency. 

There are multiple ways that the Postal Service could increase the efficiency of package delivery in rural and urban areas. First, the Postal Service could consider installing more parcel lockers in both rural and urban areas to reduce the number of times a carrier must make a delivery to a customer’s front door. The Postal Service could also encourage customers to install larger mailboxes, which are large enough to accommodate about 70 percent of all packages. Third, the Postal Service could consider applying extra fees to certain high-cost deliveries. Finally, the Postal Service could analyze package-related data with an eye toward improving the efficiency of package delivery in certain geographic areas. 

The OIG recommends that the Vice President of Delivery Operations develop a national plan, based on key data factors, to help reduce the aggregate costs of door deliveries along rural routes and in urban apartment buildings. 

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Comments (12)

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  • anon

    I'm in a rural area and have to use a cluster box more than a 1/2 mile away from my home. I wouldn't mind but the cluster box is on a different street name and this seems to confuse the carrier. I don't get my packages on a regular basis because they're put into someone else's box and I never see it. I've filed numerous "where's my package" forms online but to no avail. I would really like to put in a post box at the end of my driveway. How can I get this to happen? I'll certainly pay for the box and whatever is needed to make this happen. Thanks in advance for your help. Amy

    Oct 16, 2020
  • anon

    The problem with rural delivery is not the local post offices. It's the distribution centers. None of my packages have been delivered on time even prior to Covid. If they ever arrive at all. When you open a case it goes to the local post master. It never goes to the actual problem area. Richmond VA distribution center mis-directs so many packages, and nobody is ever held accountable. Fix the distribution centers. They are the problem.

    Oct 09, 2020
  • anon

    I think you should exit the package delivery service until you are actually capable of doing it. Late and little plain yellow slips with many post office boxes scratched out is stupid.

    Sep 30, 2020
  • anon

    I live in a small rural town Hamilton City California and we do not have mail carrier service so we get free no fee post office boxes.The question i have is due to virus we never received our annual renewal forms and now we are locked out of our box and postal worker is wanting us to pay $50 for a renewal on a free box is this accurate?

    Sep 30, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, Delmer. Thank you for your comment. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Oct 01, 2020
  • anon

    I only got to page 20 and could not go further because I was laughing too hard... The average parcels data for rural carriers must have been taken from the weeks of mail count where all mail disappears so usps can pay rural carriers less.. Fell out of my chair when you thought the new pay system would be in in a year or two...It was supposed to be operational a few years before I retired 2 years ago... What a cluster joke. You have no clue that rural carriers have been screwed by usps which never adjusted their pay times based on the 70% increase in packages...usps would be losing millions more if they would pay rurals fairly... end of rant....did you actually talk with carriers and asked for their input?.......Yeah, again, ya never thought of that....duh...

    Sep 29, 2020
  • anon

    Why don’t you try eliminating UPS drops at rural post offices? Why don’t you try staffing rural post offices with people other than felons? Hey, how about you make up your minds about whether those of us without mail delivery at our physical address are supposed to ask shippers to put our PO Box number BEFORE or AFTER our physical address! Until you overhaul the rampant corruption in post office facilities, I doubt there’s much you can expect to improve on your other lackluster performance deficits...

    Sep 26, 2020
  • anon

    Many communities in the DFW area are experiencing long delays in the receipt of their packages. Sometime these packages sit at the Ft. Worth Distribution Center for up to four or five days. For those of us who receive medication through the mail, this is totally unacceptable. Something has got to be done. If there are not enough employees due to Covid 19 then they need to hire some temporary employees.

    Sep 25, 2020
  • anon

    I use the USPS several times a week,not a huge amount,but a good bit. Very,very satisfied with the service. I am small at best,but at every stop, my packages are treated well,and arrive well, Your employees are the best!

    Sep 22, 2020
  • anon

    I understand these measures. But what is being done NOW to speed delivery? I have had several packages arrive many days late. Including 1 from the next state over taking 12 days and 1 from 2 states over talkin 10 days as well as PRIORITY mail packages taking up to a week or more . I'm paying extra for PRIORITY MAIL but not receiving services that I'm paying for ! ? ! I believe I'll look into FedEx and UPS to handle my mailings, and only order online if non USPS delivery is available from the seller.

    Sep 21, 2020
  • anon

    omg, every Rural Carrier with a route like mine has been saying this for years. Except most of our "medium density " routes have double the parcel volume that is explained in this study.

    Sep 19, 2020
  • anon

    yea we don't have large vehicles, a lot of us are delivering out of personal vehicles. Team lift stickers on huge packages. With no help, one person trying to carry it. Management requiring to take them out, over long drives in rural areas or up flights of stairs. Can we say safety hazard? At least ups has a ramp and hand truck. Not to mention they don't even load their own vehicles. The problem is amazon, for some reason we get the huge heavy packages, while fedex/ups who are equipped for it, deliver the stuff that would fit in a mailbox???!!! Because of the size of t he packages, we are making 2nd/3rd trips to fit it all. Back injuries ect, I thought there was a 35 pound 'carry' limit, and after that, just a temporary....'lift', for higher. Someone needs to make this more clear to USPS employee's that are injuring themselves everyday trying to handle these large parcels.

    Sep 25, 2020

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