Details Emerging About Delivery Unit Consolidations

Documents provided by the Postal Service to its labor groups detail the initial moves to implement the network redesign contained in the Postmaster General’s 10-year Plan. Generally, the redesign would impact the mail processing, transportation, and delivery infrastructure; similarly, sweeping changes are not anticipated for retail facilities.

SDCs

The focus of the documents is the consolidation in specific areas of delivery functions from post offices into newly established “sort and delivery centers.” As envisioned, the SDCs would be located in existing facilities where space was vacated when mail processing operations were relocated.

To begin, the USPS identifies facilities with excess empty space into which at least two existing delivery units and twenty routes could be consolidated. At the same time, the agency identifies post offices with city and rural routes within thirty minutes’ travel time (one way) and gauges how much space at the SDC would be needed to hold their existing delivery operation. Candidate facilities are also evaluated for their ability to be expanded as needed, and for the availability of parking spaces for both employee and delivery vehicles. After completing its analyses, the facilities are ranked in order of greatest opportunity if activated as SDCs.

The ten facilities identified as the top candidates were the Mid-Hudson (NY) P&DC, Utica (NY) P&DF, Southeastern (PA) P&DC, Kalamazoo (MI) P&DC, Gainesville (FL) P&DF, Athens (GA) P&DC, Columbus (GA) PO, Topeka (KS) Northpark Station, New Castle (PA) P&DF, and Bryan (TX) P&DC.

Routes

An obvious consequence of the consolidations is greater travel time from the SDC to a carrier’s delivery route and less delivery time – meaning fewer stops can be served. In turn, this will require the establishment of 5-10% more delivery routes to serve the same deliveries now served by the existing delivery units that are being consolidated.

According to the information provided by the Postal Service, the ten candidate SDCs would consolidate 153 existing delivery units with 1,233 city delivery routes and 771 rural delivery routes. Because of the added travel time, the USPS estimated that from 62 to 124 more city routes, and 39-78 more rural routes, would be needed to serve the same number of delivery stops.

The first

From the candidates, the USPS chose Mid-Hudson (NY), Bryan (TX), and Athens (GA) to be the first SDCs:

  • Mid-Hudson is a former P&DC in Newburgh (NY); its mail processing operations were consolidated into the Albany (NY) P&DC in 2015. The facility has over 118,000 square feet of available workspace and will house 160 delivery routes from 17 delivery units that serve about 100,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 14-29 minutes. Completion of the consolidation is planned for this fall but no date was given.
  • Bryan is a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into North Houston (TX) in 2013. The facility has over 58,500 square feet of available workspace; it already has 55 routes and will house 96 more from five delivery units that serve about 117,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 9-28 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.
  • Athens is a former P&DC; its mail processing operations were consolidated into North Metro (GA) in 2015. The facility has over 38,500 square feet of available workspace; it already has 75 routes and will house 103 more from 12 other delivery units that serve about 123,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 8-28 minutes. The consolidation process is planned for completion by September 24.

The rest

Details about the other seven candidate facilities:

  • Utica is a former P&DC; its mail processing operations were consolidated into the Syracuse (NY) P&DC in 2012. The facility has over 88,700 square feet of available workspace; it already has 59 routes and will house 142 more from 24 delivery units that serve about 109,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 8-30 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.
  • Southeastern (Tri-County) is a former P&DC in King of Prussia (PA); its mail processing operations were consolidated into Philadelphia and New Castle (DE), in 2013. The facility has over 121,700 square feet of available workspace; it already has 107 routes and will house 281 more from 12 delivery units that serve about 201,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 15-27 minutes. No date for completion of the consolidation was given.
  • Kalamazoo is a former P&DC; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Grand Rapids in 2012. The facility has over 88,000 square feet of available workspace and will house 262 routes from 21 delivery units that serve about 163,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 8-29 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.
  • Gainesville is a former P&DC; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Jacksonville in 2015. The facility has over 127,700 square feet of available workspace; it already has 61 routes and will house 134 more from 12 delivery units that serve about 136,500 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 15-27 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.
  • Columbus (GA) is the existing post office and a former P&DC; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Macon in 2013. The facility has over 47,8000 square feet of available workspace; it already has 113 routes and will house 39 more from eight delivery units that serve about 108,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 14-30 minutes. No date for completion of the consolidation was given.
  • Northpark is a former P&DC in Topeka (KS); its mail processing operations were consolidated into Kansas City (MO) in 2013. The facility has over 66,500 square feet of available workspace; it already has 35 routes and will house 138 more from 16 delivery units that serve about 98,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 7-30 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.
  • New Castle (PA) is a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Pittsburgh in 2012. The facility has over 37,300 square feet of available workspace; it already has 45 routes and will house 105 more from 18 delivery units that serve about 83,000 delivery points. The estimated travel time to the current delivery units is 15-30 minutes. Consolidation is planned for completion by February 2023.

Separately, another document offered somewhat different details, and listed 13 additional facilities to be converted into SDCs by February 23:

  • Annapolis (MD) PO; eight delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Williamsport (PA), a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Harrisburg in 2013. Nine delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Woburn (MA) PO; six delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Morgantown (WV) PO; four delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Panama City (FL), a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Pensacola in 2013. Six delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Quincy (IL) PO; ten delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Owensboro (KY), a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Evansville (IN) in 2012. Eight delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Pasco (WA), a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Spokane in 2013. Five delivery units will be consolidated.
  • High Point (NC) PO; five delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Kokomo (IN), a former P&DF; its mail processing operations were consolidated into Indianapolis in 2015.Seven delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Jonesboro (AR) PO; eight delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Lansing (MI) Carrier Annex; six delivery units will be consolidated.
  • Lufkin (TX) PO; seven delivery units will be consolidated.

Another concept that was studied is the consolidation of parcel-only routes in urban areas where delivery is mostly walk-out (foot) routes or a combination of foot and parcel delivery.Analyzing delivery in a section of Brooklyn (NY), for example, the USPS plans to consolidate parcel delivery from five stations into a single SDC by November 18.

Beyond 

According to the USPS information, 928 facilities with available space have been identified, and site surveys and project plans have begun. In addition, as the agency organizes its network of regional processing and distribution centers it will evaluate opportunities in metropolitan areas to collocate an SDC or to buy or build a suitable new SDC facility.

One of the areas often mentioned by the PMG as having an inefficient processing network and where delivery consolidation opportunities exist is Greater Atlanta.

According to a USPS analysis included in the documents released to the labor groups, delivery operations from 73 existing delivery units could be consolidated into seven existing or new facilities. Doing so would bring together 2,327 out of 4,251 routes, representing 1.74 million delivery points, with the remainder being, presumably, too distant to consolidate cost-effectively.

The potential for consolidation in the Indianapolis area was also examined. Two facilities could house 1,058 routes from 35 existing delivery units serving over 710,000 delivery points in the immediate metropolitan area; outlying areas would not be included.

As SDC facilities proliferate, observers are concerned about the concurrent increase in vehicle mileage and fuel costs, as well as the cost of additional carriers and vehicles for the new routes that will be required. Although the PMG dismisses doubts and questions as “noise,” it would still be appropriate to explain to ratepayers how the overall SDC concept really will reduce costs.

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