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There is a fair amount of mail, loaded in semis, that still travels by rail.  I think it used to be called "Piggyback?"  A lot of the USPS Express Mail is also subcontracted to FedEx and so may be in some of their trailers on flat cars.

The previous Federal Administration had a lot of members who believed that many of the service industries that the government operates, the mail and passenger railroads, would be better operated by private industry, those who could turn a profit doing it.  The mindset was that it should not be taxpayer dollars paying for these services.  It is strictly my opinion, though I am sure I am not the only one with it, that these Federal administrators would be willing to make those service industries fail to get their way.

Someone was telling me in Europe, they have re-invented their postal service.  Some countries have turned there post office into convenient stores.  Just like full service gas stations, get a coffee, snacks, or what have you.  We have all these post offices right here sitting mostly empty.  Time to think outside the box with the USPS.

From my experiences in Europe, it varies by Country.

In Sweden, most of the POs have been closed - You buy stamps at convenience stores, mail packages at service desks in Supermarkets - Packages are delivered to the closest supermarket and you get a text message or postcard in your mailbox where to pick up the package.

In Austria the POs are thriving and you can buy cards, bank, get phone service, buy a cellphone and get lots of other services at the PO.

From what I understand part of the problem in the US is that postal unions do not want the work outsourced to a grocery store, Staples, etc.

When I was growing up in Scranton, PA, in every neighborhood had a pharmacy that had a PO counter. When I moved to Amherst, MA in the early 80s the pharmacy in downtown had a PO counter where you could mail a package or buy stamps anytime the pharmacy was open. Alas, the pharmacy has been replaced by a CVS where you can just buy books of stamps.

In the 70s in Providence, RI, the main PO had driveup window that gave some services 24 hour a day. I'm not sure that trend continues to this day.

Of course, now 95% of my work-oriented mailing is done by email, so a late open PO is not always that needed.

Luckily, I have not had to deal with major delays in the USPS since 80% of the things I purchase originates in my state or in the adjacent ones.

My postman and I sometimes shoot the breeze when he comes to my house. In the land of COVID, it’s nice to see another person so we will talk about everything any anything. He is a fantastic guy who has been delivering my family's mail since I can remember. From what I understand from my inside source these are the big problems for the USPS: mismanagement, Amazon using their own in-house delivery, COVID, and lack of profit-making mail.

Mismanagement can cost millions to large organizations; this sadly is nothing new with the post office...

I in my rural area, the local post office would normally get 8-12 pallets a week from Amazon during the Christmas season as there was a contract signed that the USPS would be the primary delivery service for Amazon products. Bezos started an in-house delivery service starting in late 2018-early 2019. To prevent further business losses after Bezos started Amazon deliveries, the USPS are charging Amazon below-market rates on packages. If the USPS makes Amazon pay market rates, they are fearful Bezos might go fully in-house and they will lose even more money.
The only exception to this "new" Amazon shipping doctrine was this past Christmas Season. USPS was handling most of Amazon's deliveries in the weeks prior to Christmas since all but one of Amazon's distribution centers were shut down due to COVID. I was very surprised to see my postman delivering me my mail on a Sunday. He said that it was all hands-on deck and even the senior union members, like himself, were called in for the two weeks before Christmas.

COVID caused the operation and transportation costs of the USPS to increase $2.3B and $630M respectively. This was due to "surge in package volume as a result of the pandemic, along with increased overtime hours and paid sick leave stemming from the national health crisis" and " increased package volumes and the limited availability of commercial air transportation due to the pandemic, which necessitated shifts to higher-cost modes of transportation. Furthermore, the pandemic significantly increased the Postal Service’s expenses for supplies and services, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), to ensure the safety of its employees and customers." These quotes are from the 2020 Fiscal Year report . My postman has told me that COVID has hampered deliveries and sorting in the USPS as they are following all guidelines on social distancing and "flattening the curve." They need more people to work and deal with the increases of e-shopping but there is COVID guidelines to also follow. Catch-22

The USPS makes money on mail that does not have weight. Letters, priority mail, and small parcels are where they make profit. Oversized and/or heavy items like our trains is where the USPS barely makes money or sometimes just breaks even. With the advent of emails, the number of traditional letters has decreased, especially in the younger generations. I am one of the only people in my friend group (20s) that mails people cards for Holidays, Birthdays, etc. The rest send texts, emails, or direct messages.

Obviously, some areas have it worse than others for myriad of reasons: external events (i.e the train derailment mentioned in the original post), number of workers at a USPS building following COVID guidelines, population density, etc.

Now the $64 question is, does the federal government do one of the following?
- Privatize the USPS and "que sera sera."
- Keep the USPS a quasi-government entity and bail them out.
- Make the USPS a regulatory body for the feds and contract mail delivery to a company
- Make the USPS a completely government run organization and find the money to supplement funding
- Invoke OMB A-76 on the USPS (another "que sera sera" scenario if private industry wins out). For those who aren't familiar with OMB A-76, the simplified version is: Who will give the American taxpayer the most quality and bang for your buck? Private industry or Government? The one who has the best bid on the contract wins.

As shown in the USPS 2020 Fiscal Year Report...  "package volumes will remain higher given what looks to be a potential permanent shift in consumer behavior, we do not expect our package revenue growth over the medium-to-long term to make up for our losses in mail service revenue caused by COVID-19." Long story short: The USPS is caught between a rock and a hard place.


Last edited by Oscale_Trains_Lover_

I was a Rural Carrier Assistant mailman for 5-6 weeks.  Figured it was govt job and not so dependent on the economy.  You try it.  753 addresses you are supposed to deliver in 8 hours and it takes 12.  I was there 2 weeks and the woman who was supposed to train me went on vacation for 2 weeks and they expected me to do the route by myself.  Impossible.  You couldn’t sort the unsorted mail fast enough if you didn’t know every address by heart.  And that takes time, time I wasn’t given.  No training, no breaks, no lunch, a woman boss on my a** all day, it was stressful.  It did get me through a winter with some extra dough in my pocket, but man that job...  I’ll leave it there.  There is constant turnover and now I know why.  Just sharing.  Be nice to your postal carrier, they are most likely doing the best they can.  It’s a rough gig.  I was told by other carriers it takes 3 months to learn a route, they expected me to figure it out in 2 weeks, I have to admit I failed miserably, and I consider myself a pretty sharp guy with a lifelong work ethic.   Was glad when I deposited my last check.  Cya!

Cheers,       W1

Last edited by William 1

I started talking with my money and stopped using USPS. Time for government to get out of the package game and stick to flat mail with stamps which are subsidized by taxes. It is unfortunate that it's run so poorly because the people at my local PO are great! The Harrisburg distribution center is terrible. I'm sure a lot of people gaming the system with 'covid symptoms' who know it's virtually impossible to get fired from that place. My bet is that nothing will change anytime soon.

Last edited by PRRick
@superwarp1 posted:

Someone was telling me in Europe, they have re-invented their postal service.  Some countries have turned there post office into convenient stores.  Just like full service gas stations, get a coffee, snacks, or what have you.  We have all these post offices right here sitting mostly empty.  Time to think outside the box with the USPS.

I have heard that in some countries the Post Office can do things a bank can do like lend money or credit cards and they can offer services like notary, copies, etc. As a postal employee I have always been in favor of this happening to our US Post Office but Congress never allowed it. So the thought has been there for many years but the powers that be won’t let it happen.

I cannot speak for other plants but where I work we are all caught up on Letter mail and packages.

My town has two post offices, and two ZIP codes. They overlap, geographically. They will not deliver mail, to any address, ever. We all (2,500 in the winter and 10,000 in the summer) have to rent a P O box and drive to one of the two buildings every day. The population has expanded during COVID to the summer numbers, as the summer people have become the year-round people.  5,000 people, figure over half are retired age, up to 100 years old, each driving on narrow roads daily, in all kinds of weather, and in various states of mental acuity.

The USPS will not divulge the P O Box number of any customer. If a piece of mail does not have a proper box number, it is returned to sender. If you don't know the box number, you are SOL.

Companies that will not ship to a P O box refuse to service us via the USPS. If a package is sent via UPS or FedEx (who each have some sort of "last mile" arrangement with the USPS) to a street address, and the package winds up at one of two post offices, the package, even having been originally sent via the other carriers who insist upon a street address, gets sent back because it lacks a P O box number.

Government documents (enhanced driver licenses, tax bills, jury notices, registration renewals, etc.) without a P O box number get sent back, causing legal problems for the (non-) recipients. Prescription drug companies who offer a monthly automatic delivery of pills often will refuse to ship to a P O Box. People who depend upon drugs to stay alive...well...

The lines to send or pick up packages are out the door most days.  The poor dears who work in the buildings are old and feeble, in the last throes of their careers, because no one wants to serve at these two offices.  The post-mistresses, being, by regulation, "in charge" of the offices, set their hours at will. One closes at 4 pm, the other at 5:30 pm.

Questions are answered with a snarl, if at all. Neither office has a listed telephone number.

There used to be two slots for outgoing mail at each building. One slot said "OUT OF TOWN" and the other said "LOCAL 11964 - 11965."  The local slots are now blocked, and all mail, even from one building to the other, a distance of 3 miles, or even from one box in a building to another box in the same building, a distance of, say, 4 feet, goes to a place on Long Island about 75 miles away, across the bay, in a private truck, to be processed, then sent back, possibly to be delivered.  In the past, mail within one building got delivered the same day, or even within the hour. Mail between the buildings got delivered the next day, at worst.  People have taken to leaving their boxes unlocked so that birthday cards and invitations from friends can be illegally placed in the boxes and therefore will arrive in a timely manner.

We have learned, through experience, to sneak in a phrase like "suite 474" at the end of a character string that includes a street address, to indicate that the delivery needs to go to P O Box 474. Many companies' software will immediately kick out an address entry that includes the word "box."  Like this: "53A West Neck Road, suite 474..." and we always use ZIP+4, to include the box number, like 11964-0474. Sometimes these ruses work.

Kindly tell me if you think that the USPS is doing a good job. Move here, and find out.  Drop me a line to let me know when you're coming! ha ha ha

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

On 2/23/2021 I ordered an item from Lenexa, Kansas to be shipped to me in Florida, expected to arrive on 2/27/2021.  That evening it was processed through Kansas City, Kansas.  This morning 2/28/2021 it was processed through Denver, Colorado!  Five days to go from Kansas City to Denver, and in the wrong direction to its destination!  Please don't blame Covid-19 or the weather for this snafu.


@Stuart posted:

On 2/23/2021 I ordered an item from Lenexa, Kansas to be shipped to me in Florida, expected to arrive on 2/27/2021.  That evening it was processed through Kansas City, Kansas.  This morning 2/28/2021 it was processed through Denver, Colorado!  Five days to go from Kansas City to Denver, and in the wrong direction to its destination!  Please don't blame Covid-19 or the weather for this snafu.


Just had a similar experience. Bought an ho engine that shipped from Florida to New Hampshire. No tracking info after 1st day. A week later got updated info. Package in Iowa. Another week goes by no tracking info again. Then I got tracking that it was out for delivery. 2 weeks total. Why does the P.O. even have tracking. Once you give it to them they have no idea where the Blank it is going anyway. I am surprised they only lost 4 billion. John

I am currently waiting for a USPS package that is needed for a mid-March event. It was shipped First Class on February 17th with an expected delivery date of February 20th. It made it to the local PO in Iowa and then to the Cedar Rapids, IA facility leaving there the evening of the 17th. It's been in transit to the next point since then. Even the railroads can get a freight car from Iowa to Massachusetts in this much time.


Very creative excuses. They stated the delay on one of my packages was because my business was closed for the holiday (Presidents day). They are delivering to my home mailbox as usual!! I think it was their business that was closed for Presidents day..........  Sometimes packages show they are shipped from the center in NJ to Harrisburg and back to NJ 3 times before they are delivered here - amazing productivity.

We all have our horror stories, but we need to keep it in perspective - despite the huge increase in volume, overtime and additional machinery have not been approved by top management.  Postal workers are judged by impersonal metrics - whenever this happens, there is a human temptation to tell the system what it wants to hear. Postal workers are overwhelmed right now, and all they hear is criticism - let's give them a break.

Imagine you had a racehorse that had a chance to win the Kentucky Derby, so you decided for the six months before the race to cut it's daily food intake in half with the idea that a leaner horse would be even faster. Do you think the horse would win? It's kinda that way with the USPS (and government in general). The price we pay for having the lowest taxes compared to other industrialized countries is we are among the worst in services, health care, transportation, etc.

p.s. I'd second William1's comments, I was an RCA off-and-on over the course of a year.

Last edited by wjstix

I ordered three items from Amazon last week.   All items were shipped via USPS.  The first two items have already been delivered and were received as promised - one in 2 days and the other in 4.  The third item is a book that I believe is being shipped via media mail.  The promised delivery date is "late March to early April."  Hope I don't forget about it as I've already been billed for it.

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