WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Mark Takai (D-HI) yesterday sent a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging an investment in a modern and efficient Postal Service fleet as they begin the process of replacing their aging mail delivery vehicles.
The USPS owns and operates the world’s largest civilian vehicle fleet: 192,000 mail delivery vehicles that are driven 4.3 million miles per day. More than 141,000 are aging Grumman LLVs, which average only 10 miles per gallon. This vehicle first entered service in 1987, and the majority have reached the end of their 24-year operational lifespan. Fueling these vehicles comes at a high cost: in FY 2010, the petroleum fuel bill for all postal transportation totaled $1.7 billion. Since 2005, the USPS has marked a 6.4% increase in petroleum use.
The USPS recently began a three-year process to procure more than 180,000 new vehicles through the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Acquisition Program. While this program represents an important step to modernize the fleet and improve fuel economy, more is needed, the members wrote in today’s letter:
“We believe stronger and more specific requirements must be included in the upcoming Request for Proposal to realize the full potential for efficiency, durability, and clean vehicle technology,” the members wrote. “Our nation’s largest civilian fleet should serve as a global leader in efficiency and innovation. We therefore urge you to invest in an advanced high-efficiency vehicle fleet that will ultimately save money, reduce carbon pollution, and continue to deliver for the American people.”
In addition to Huffman, Connolly, and Takai, the letter was signed by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), William R. Keating (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Susan Davis (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Donald Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).
The text of the letter can be found HERE or below:
Dear Postmaster General Brennan:
As the United States Postal Service (USPS) begins the process of replacing the aging mail delivery vehicle fleet, we urge you to take this opportunity to finally invest in a modern, leading-edge, efficient Postal Service fleet. Our nation’s largest civilian fleet should serve as a global leader in efficiency and innovation.
Earlier this year, the Postal Service began a three-year process to procure over 180,000 new vehicles through your Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) Acquisition Program. We are glad to see the Postal Service finally taking the needed steps to replace the 141,000 aging Grumman LLVs, which average less than 10 miles per gallon, incur high maintenance costs, and dramatically increase delivery costs.
Based on the Request for Information (RFI) that the Postal Service released on January 20, 2015, we are encouraged that the USPS plans to improve its fleet. However, we believe stronger and more specific requirements must be included in the upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) to realize the full potential for efficiency, durability, and clean vehicle technology.
For example, the RFI would allow the purchase of “either a dedicated or dual fueled” alternative fuel vehicle. Simply purchasing dual-fueled vehicles, however, does not lead to a reduction in petroleum use. The USPS currently has 40,000 flex-fuel vehicles and minivans that can operate on E85 or gasoline, but the Government Accountability Office has showed that 54% of these vehicles run exclusively on gasoline due to availability and price factors. The RFP should ensure that any alternative fuel vehicles that are purchased will actually be run on a clean alternative fuel.
We are also concerned that USPS intends to procure a “one size fits all” vehicle. We understand that the Postal Service believes this approach maximizes purchasing power and could lower the upfront initial cost. However, given the diverse conditions USPS vehicles are driven in—in different weather and terrain, and in urban and rural environments—we believe this approach will limit the fleet’s efficiency significantly.
Clearly some of the service routes could be served well by all-electric vehicles, while others may require vehicles with longer range. The Postal Service’s major commercial competitors like FedEx and UPS use a wide variety of vehicle types and fuels to maximize efficiency and lower costs, and other federal agencies also vary their vehicle fleets across the country. In fact, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, FedEx and UPS implemented delivery vehicle technological enhancements such as installing hydraulic hybrid transmissions that increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and dramatically improve vehicle durability, eliminating the need to regularly replace brakes and starter motors at a high cost. The Postal Service should aspire to be ever more nimble than its competitors in building its new fleet.
This purchase is a major decision for the Postal Service, and one that will have long-lasting effects for both employees and consumers. We therefore urge you to invest in an advanced high-efficiency vehicle fleet that will ultimately save money, reduce carbon pollution, and continue to deliver for the American people.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.