Aggregating the USPS' carrier operations will change the delivery structure. It may also streamline the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs).  -  Photo: USPS

Aggregating the USPS' carrier operations will change the delivery structure. It may also streamline the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs).

Photo: USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is reconsidering its purchase plan for its first order of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs), which consists mostly of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The plan sparked controversy, as government agencies move toward electrified fleets.

Earlier this year, the USPS announced it was purchasing 40,000 ICE delivery trucks and 10,000 battery electric delivery trucks. A coalition of 16 states and several environmental groups sued the USPS over its purchase plan in late April.

The Postal Service announced it will soon publish a Notice of Intent to supplement its environmental impact statement (EIS) on its NGDV plan. It comes as Postal Service accounts for expected changes following a recently announced plan to improve its delivery network. As part of the initiative, the Postal Service will aggregate much of its delivery operations into sort and delivery centers, with modern building systems and adequate space, docks, conveyors, and mail, and material handling equipment to operate more efficiently while modernizing and leveraging currently underutilized plants around the country.

“As I noted when we placed our initial NGDV delivery order, the Postal Service would continue to look for opportunities to further increase the electrification of our fleet in a responsible manner, as we continue to refine our operating strategy and implement the Delivering for America plan,” said Postmaster General and CEO DeJoy. “A modernized network of delivery facilities provides us with such an opportunity. This is the right approach —operationally, financially, and environmentally.”

Postal delivery vehicles currently operate from almost 19,000 facility locations across the country. As part of the current network, the USPS can have as many as 40 delivery facility locations concentrated within a 10-mile radius. The Postal Service reports that many of the buildings are in disrepair and can't accomodate for its current mix of mail and packages. The high amount of locations also requires significant sorting operations at the plants, underutilizes numerous truckloads from plants, and diminishes the efficiency and commercial utility of the mail carrier route structure, according to the USPS.

By placing large carrier operations inside unused mail processing plants, DeJoy said transportation efficiency will be "dramatically improved," eliminating unnecessary trips, reducing mail handlings, increasing reliability, and decreasing time to delivery.

These proposed changes, according to the USPS, may alter its appropriate mix of vehicles to be procured under the NGDV contract. Aggregating the carrier operations will change the delivery structure. It may also streamline the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs), as it would reduce the number of facilities where charging installations are needed and it would permit the upgraded electrical systems and infrastructure that are needed. This infrastructure significantly reduces the risks associated with deployment of new EVs to facilities with less robust infrastructure. As part of the improvement plan, carrier operations--which are often located on the same property as post offices--will shift to larger, modernized facilities. That will result in fewer underutilized truck trips, and will allow the delivery routes to become more efficient and cost-effective.

The NGDVs are expected to be on Postal Service routes in late 2023.

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