Postal Updates

U.S. Postal Service continues to focus on package mail

Jul 22, 2021, 10 AM

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

Here is another sign that the United States Postal Service believes its future might be in packages.

On July 19, the agency launched a pilot project in Houston and Dallas that offers same-day or next-day package deliveries at what it calls “affordable rates.”

Named “USPS Connect Local,” the project is attempting to measure the demand for faster package deliveries than the USPS typically offers.

An announcement on the USPS Link website said the Postal Service wants to “help businesses of all sizes meet growing consumer demand for affordable fast, local and regional deliveries and returns.”

“Once business customers are enrolled in the program and agree to the program terms, they can bring their prepaid labeled packages directly to the back dock of select postal facilities close to the packages’ final destinations,” the article said.

“In return, they will get delivery rates during the pilot that are usually only available to large-volume customers.”

Jakki Krage Strako, chief commerce and business solutions officer for the USPS, was quoted as saying the program will be expanded “across the country once we demonstrate our readiness.”

The USPS says that package deliveries typically take two to nine days in the contiguous 48 states.

The lack of a same-day service has been one of the barriers the USPS has faced in competition with other delivery services that offer such a service.

Meanwhile another aspect of speeding package deliveries, the installation of new package sorting machines, is underway.

The Huntsville Business Journal chronicled the use of the Automated Delivery Unit Sorter at the Alabama city’s processing and distribution center on July 19.

The newspaper said the unit, which can sort up to 4,500 packages an hour, is 12 times faster than manual sorting.

It is much faster and easier on the workers, Katrina Pleasant, a postal worker, told the Huntsville Business Journal.

“Now that we have the machine, everything is automatic and we can do over 30,000 packages a day,” she said.

An October 2020 audit by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General found that the machines were saving money but not as much as the agency had projected.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has made a point of getting the USPS to be more competitive in the package business.

Package mail has been the growth segment while letter volume has continued to plummet, DeJoy noted in his 10-year plan to stabilize the agency’s finances.

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