Over a time of years, these offices are relied upon to supplant Processing and Distribution Centers, Customer Service Facilities, Bulk Mail Centers, Logistic and Distribution Centers, attaches, the Hub and Spoke Program, Air Mail Centers, and International Service Centers.
The progressions are an aftereffect of the declining volumes of single-piece First-Class Mail, populace moves, the expansion in drop shipments by promoting mailers at destinating postal offices, headways in gear and innovation, redundancies in the current system, and the requirement for operational adaptability.
Aircraft and rail division
A former United States Postal Service Boeing 727-200 aircraft at Miami International Airport in 1999
The United States Postal Service does not directly own or operate any aircraft or trains, although both were formerly operated. The mail and packages are flown on airlines with which the Postal Service has a contractual agreement. The contracts change periodically. Contract airlines have included: UPS, Emery Worldwide, Ryan International Airlines, FedEx Express, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Express One International. The Postal Service also contracts with Amtrak to carry some mail between certain cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis – Saint Paul.
The last air delivery route in the continental U.S., to residents in the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness, was scheduled to be ended in June 2009. The weekly bush plane route, contracted out to an air taxi company, had in its final year an annual cost of $46,000, or $2400/year per residence, over ten times the average cost of delivering mail to a residence in the United States. This decision has been reversed by the U.S. Postmaster General.
Parcel forwarding and private interchange
Private US parcel forwarding or US mail forwarding companies focusing on personal shopper, relocation, Ex-pat and mail box services often interface with the United States Postal Service for transporting of mail and packages for their customers.
USPS contractor-driven semi-trailer truck seen near Mendota, California
1998 United States Postal Service Ford Windstar, showing the larger driver’s side door
From 1810, mail was delivered seven days a week. In 1828, local religious leaders noticed a decline in Sunday-morning church attendance because of local post offices’ doubling as gathering places. These leaders appealed to the government to intervene and close post offices on Sundays. The government, however, declined, and mail was delivered 7 days a week until 1912.
Today, U.S. Mail (with the exception of Express Mail) is not delivered on Sunday.
Saturday delivery was temporarily suspended in April 1957, because of lack of funds, but quickly restored.
Budget problems prompted consideration of dropping Saturday delivery starting around 2009. This culminated in a 2013 announcement that regular mail services would be cut to five days a week, which was reversed by Congress before it could take effect. (See the section Revenue decline and planned cuts.)
Direct delivery vs. customer pickup
Originally, mail was not delivered to homes and businesses, but to post offices. In 1863, “city delivery” began in urban areas with enough customers to make this economical. This required streets to be named, houses to be numbered, with sidewalks and lighting provided, and these street addresses to be added to envelopes. The number of routes served expanded over time. In 1891, the first experiments with Rural Free Delivery began in less densely populated areas. There is currently an effort to reduce direct delivery in favor of mailbox clusters.
To compensate for high mail volume and slow long-distance transportation which saw mail arrive at post offices throughout the day, deliveries were made multiple times a day. This ranged from twice for residential areas to up to seven times for the central business district of Brooklyn, New York. In the late 19th century, mail boxes were encouraged, saving carriers the time it took to deliver directly to the addressee in person; in the 1910s and 1920s, they were phased in as a requirement for service. In the 1940s, multiple daily deliveries began to be reduced, especially on Saturdays. By 1990, the last twice-daily deliveries in New York City were eliminated.
Today, mail is delivered once a day on-site to most private homes and businesses. The USPS still distinguishes between city delivery (where carriers generally walk and deliver to mailboxes hung on exterior walls or porches, or to commercial reception areas) and rural delivery (where carriers generally drive). With “curbside delivery”, mailboxes are at the ends of driveways, on the nearest convenient road. “Central point delivery” is used in some locations, where several nearby residences share a “cluster” of individual mailboxes in a single housing.
Some customers choose to use post office boxes for an additional fee, for privacy or convenience. This provides a locked box at the post office to which mail is addressed and delivered (usually earlier in the day than home delivery). Customers in less densely populated areas where there is no city delivery and who do not qualify for rural delivery may receive mail only through post office boxes. High-volume business customers can also arrange for special pick-up.