USPS OIG Report: Package Delivery in Rural and Dense Urban Areas

September 16, 2020 (RISC-WP-20-008)

  • Package delivery in rural and urban environments comes with challenges not experienced in suburban environments, such as numerous apartment buildings in urban areas or long distances between delivery points in rural areas.
  • The Postal Service could make package delivery more efficient by installing more parcel lockers, encouraging larger curbside mailboxes, and by better tracking parcel-related operational data.

OIG research found that package delivery in rural and urban areas comes with operational challenges not seen in suburban areas. For example, in rural areas, delivery points may be far apart, or a customer’s mailbox may be located far from their home. In urban areas, there are numerous apartment buildings that may require delivering packages to individual apartments. The Postal Service also faces stiff competition in urban areas from established carriers and start-up services alike. These factors pose significant challenges to package delivery efficiency.

There are multiple ways that the Postal Service could increase the efficiency of package delivery in rural and urban areas. First, the Postal Service could consider installing more parcel lockers in both rural and urban areas to reduce the number of times a carrier must make a delivery to a customer’s front door. The Postal Service could also encourage customers to install larger mailboxes, which are large enough to accommodate about 70 percent of all packages. Third, the Postal Service could consider applying extra fees to certain high-cost deliveries. Finally, the Postal Service could analyze package-related data with an eye toward improving the efficiency of package delivery in certain geographic areas.

The OIG recommends that the Vice President of Delivery Operations develop a national plan, based on key data factors, to help reduce the aggregate costs of door deliveries along rural routes and in urban apartment buildings.

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Source: USPS Office of Inspector General

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