Some USPS mail package delivery is about to get slower : NPR

a major part of your mail is about to get slower. first it was letters and now some packages can take longer to arrive.

the united states postal service currently considers a first-class package delayed if it is delivered more than three days after it is sent. but under new standards that take effect next month, more than 30% of first-class packages will be considered delivered on time if they arrive within four or five days.

The new standards are part of the postal service’s move to rely more on its own ground transportation network instead of using air freight. The USPS wants to be more efficient and says it will save money by lowering air costs.

this is what the changes will look like

The changes that will take effect on May 1 relate only to first-class packages, which primarily include small, lightweight packages such as prescription drug orders. Right now, more than 20% of those packages have a two-day delivery standard and nearly 80% have a three-day standard.

Some packages will see delayed delivery, especially if they travel long distances. But the new rules won’t affect about 64% of first-class packages, the USPS says. a small number, 4%, will move to a shorter standard of two days instead of three.

“The postal service continually looks for ways to improve performance and provide customers with consistent, cost-effective and reliable service,” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told npr. “Changing the service standards would allow additional transport time and greater efficiency in the networks.”

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The longer delivery standards for packages come months after the USPS lowered delivery standards for first-class letters last fall. packages were initially intended to be part of that same shift, but the agency delayed that part of the change until this spring.

In the first quarter of 2022, the average time to deliver a mail or package was 2.7 days, according to the USPS. First-class mail, which had risen to nearly 90% on-time delivery after standards were relaxed last fall, fell to 86.7% in the first quarter of this year.

is the latest policy change in the postal service

The USPS has been the focus of heated debate over its mission and goals for the past two years, after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was appointed to the post under former President Donald Trump. dejoy has been criticized for his cost-cutting plans. And last summer, news broke that DeJoy, a prominent donor to Republican politicians, was under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations during his tenure at the helm of Next Generation Logistics.

The USPS says it wants to get more out of its ground network, saying the average truck runs at only 40% capacity. By increasing that usage, it says it can provide a more reliable service that is unaffected by changing conditions and the costs of air travel.

The service’s regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission, has repeatedly said that DeJoy’s plans could have a huge effect on USPS customers, compared to its bottom line.

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In an advisory opinion last September, the commission agreed that package volume designated for longer delivery times fell short of targets and said USPS seems to provide better service when it relies on its own network.

But the commission also questioned USPS’s predictions about the impact of the new standards, noting that its models used data from October 2020, a unique time in its history given the strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The regulator also said the postal service had not factored in another challenge to its plan: a shortage of truckers. And he expressed concern that the USPS might not have a detailed idea of ​​consumer preferences for delivery times. he also found that the “estimated service cost savings may be inflated.”

At a more basic level, the commission questioned the ability of the usps to implement its proposal, stating that, “at present, the postal service has not demonstrated that it can achieve reliability, efficiency, and economy in changes to its standards of service”.

On the financial side, even if the postal service’s savings predictions are accurate, the commission said, its own analysis found that “the proposed changes would not materially affect the overall financial condition of the postal service.”

Those concerns echoed doubts the regulator raised last summer, as the USPS prepared to institute first-class letter delivery delays.

As with other recent updates to the service, the new delays come as prices continue to rise. The USPS is proposing to increase the cost of a first-class stamp from 58 cents to 60 cents, citing inflation and operating expenses. at this time last year, the price was 55 cents.

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