The USPS Is in a Crisis, But Switching to EVs Could Help Them

USPS’ Long Life Vehicle      Photo: Linn’s Stamp News

By Zoey Shipley

Over the last few weeks, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been in the news — berated by President Trump for losing money and struggling financially due to a drop in the volume of mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The government agency is asking Congress for $89 billion just to stay afloat. But one cheap transition that could be a game-changer is replacing their roughly 30-year-old fleet of USPS mail trucks with new electric vehicles.

Why This Matters:   There is no more basic government service than mail delivery.  And it is affordable and available to every American.  But President Trump and some other conservatives want to privatize the Post Office and are seizing on this opportunity to try to get it done by setting highly prescriptive loan terms or by essentially forcing it into bankruptcy, which would benefit its private-sector competitors like FedEx and UPS.  In the midst of this crisis, we need the USPS more than ever.  And any efforts to change the agency ought to be along the lines of modernizing its fleet, not cutting back services or raising prices.  Modernizing seems like an obvious solution.   

What Happened to the Post Office?

The USPS has been in a crisis for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has only put further strain on the agency. But chronic lack of funding becomes apparent just looking at mail trucks – who can remember the earlier model? The USPS bought their trucks for their “long lives” (they are known as Long Life Vehicles or LLVs) but some of these trucks are around 26 years old! According to Vox, they also lack more modern features in vehicles, such as anti-lock brakes and air conditioning, and they only get 10 miles to a gallon and are unsafe.

The USPS was already planning to update its fleet of trucks this year, but due to COVID and its financial strains that could be in jeopardy. The solution to many of the agency’s problems would be to transition into electrifying their fleet. Some benefits include:

  • To fuel electric cars cost less than half of what it costs for gasoline cars, while also still traveling the same distance. (This is great news for rural America, which would suffer the most without the USPS).
  • The stop-and-go motions of being a postal driver would be better handled by electric cars, which harvest energy through regenerative braking.
  • Electric cars are much cheaper to maintain and repair.
  • Electric cars also equal no air pollution or greenhouse emissions. This is necessary during a time where many cities are choked by pollution and the climate crisis continues to intensify.

Congress provided billions to travel companies like airlines, through their stimulus packages, will America allow a fundamental part of our society to go bankrupt?

To Go Deeper: Check out this Vox piece that helps explain all the benefits of electric cars in more detail.

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