USPS Vehicle Fleet Even Older, Crappier Than My Toyota Tercel

Yep, these are old.

Yep, these are old.

The U.S. Postal Service estimates that most of its current fleet of vehicles are going to crap out by 2017. Sure, they pretty it up by saying that the vehicles are “near or have exceeded their expected service life,” but we all know what that means. Yet the USPS has the same problem as many ordinary citizens: how do you acquire a reliable vehicle to get to work when you’re flat broke?

Some scary numbers: the USPS has about 190,000 delivery vehicles, and 142,000 of them will reach the end of their life expectancy during or before 2017. The oldest members of the fleet are 27 years old, lacking safety features that are now standard or required. Yes, the postal service could keep repairing them into perpetuity, but the basic problem is the same one that many consumers have: often you’re better off buying a new car with better fuel efficiency rather than continuing to pay for repairs to an old one.

According to a USPS Office of the Inspector General report, designing and replacing vehicles to replace the current familiar postal vans could take up to a decade and cost $5 billion. The postal service has maybe three years to complete the replacement, and their continuing budget problems made even buying a few thousand vans as a stopgap measure difficult. The most recent rate increase was projected to bring in almost $3 billion in additional income, so that might help cover part of the expense of replacing the vehicles. Or the plan could just get shelved again, like it has repeatedly for the last decade.

Check out the comments in the Office of the Inspector General blog post: today we learned that mail carriers really, really would like air conditioning in their vehicles. We can’t say that we blame them.

The Road to a New Delivery Fleet [USPS]
USPS’s Aging Delivery Fleet to Conk Out in 4 Years [ECommerceBytes]