What's Up with the US Postal Service?

There are several reasons many of us are experiencing longer than usual delays in our mail service these days. Here in Maine, we’ve recently had stories of people not getting any mail for 2-3 weeks at a time which is unprecedented. What’s going on?

Most problems have multiple root causes, and this situation is no different. A number of issues have combined at the same time to cause delivery failures. While the post office relies on sales of stamps and other services for revenue, the federal government has contributed in times of emergency. Federal budget cuts due to the ongoing pandemic mean there’s no additional funding available while fewer people are out and about buying stamps and sending packages. 

Staffing continues to be another big problem. With dramatic swings in infection rates, there have often been too few employees to handle the workload. The post office mentions a “lack of transportation availability” on its website because delivery vehicle maintenance has also been affected by spare parts and staff shortages. Add in winter weather and poor road conditions and it’s been a perfect recipe for systemic failures and dissatisfied customers. Hopefully, US postal service levels will get back to normal with the onset of spring and improvements in the nation’s overall health.
Good Habits Help the Environment

It’s commonly understood that transportation logistics creates a sizable carbon footprint across every step of the supply chain. While the advent of commercial electric vehicles promises to make the most positive impact, it’s going to take a while to become reality. EV long haul trucking, less-than-truckload, and final mile trucks will all have to be manufactured at scale and will require a reliable, national charging infrastructure. This is going to take years to implement. In the meantime, environmental impact can be mitigated in simple ways by well-run, professional companies.

Daily route and lane planning not only increases efficiency but results in a more environment-friendly footprint by using less fuel and resources. Safe driving within speed limits, shutting off engines whenever possible instead of idling, well-maintained company vehicles, and high-tech transportation management systems all save time and help limit carbon emissions.

Final Mile companies are especially aware of these steps due to the higher number of daily stops required within residential neighborhoods. Delivery routes are carefully planned in advance and trucks packed to offload in a specific order, so no backtracking is necessary. Best-in-class Final Mile companies also carefully manage what can be a considerable amount of packaging waste from White Glove deliveries into single sort recycling containers. Attention to these kinds of details really adds up over a year of operation and can make a big difference to the environment.
Cross Border Vaccination Mandates

According to the American Trucking Association, about 60% of US truckers have at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and those who remain unvaccinated can easily find jobs hauling loads with companies not demanding proof of vaccination.

However, both Canada and the United States announced last year they would require truck drivers entering their respective countries to be fully vaccinated and show proof to gain entry. Canada implemented its measure on January 15, 2022, while the U.S. requirement started on January 22nd. Most cross-border trade between the two countries occurs over land and this has quickly become a serious problem.

Mexico accounts for over 70% of fresh produce imported during the winter months, which could be severely restrained and impacted by the vaccine mandate. It’s worth noting however that Mexican trucking companies are not allowed to operate in the US - they can only go as far as the border where US trucks take over the loads - so the impact may be less severe on our southern border.

As with all government-imposed vaccine mandates worldwide, this is a controversial issue pitting government entities trying to ensure public safety with personal freedoms and vaccine skeptics. Driver shortages, already affecting the national supply chain, have been made worse by drivers leaving their jobs over this decision on both sides of the border. It’s far beyond the purview of this newsletter to offer an opinion on which way this should be decided, but hopefully, it doesn’t devolve into hardened politically driven positions because at the end of the day we need more professional drivers and trucks on the road, not less.
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Contact Todd Flaherty, Partner to discuss your business needs.
Todd Flaherty | (207) 610-7748 | tflaherty@shipright.biz
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