Thursday, September 27, 2012

Redrawing the Map: A Look at USPS' Network Rationalization Plan

The U.S. Postal Service has been consolidating its mail-processing operations for several years, but it wasn't until I saw a recent postal official's presentation that I realized even more dramatic changes may be ahead.

The USPS's Network Rationalization Plan, opposed by some postal unions and not-in-my-district Congress members, would cut the number of processing centers nearly in half by 2015 -- from 461 this year to 232 in 2015. That's down from 673 in  2006 and 599 in 2009. (See also Has USPS Targeted the Wrong Plants for Closure?.) 

As the maps below show, the impact would be especially dramatic in certain regions. Several states -- including Mississippi, Kansas, and Arizona -- would go from having six or more facilities to only one.

Note the plan's radical effect on states in and near the northern Rocky Mountains. Some of the centers targeted for closure are more than 300 miles from the nearest surviving facility, leaving some postal workers no way to continue working for the USPS without relocating.

Northern Rockies: Currently
Northern Rockies: "After"

It's not just sparsely populated areas that would lose most of their processing centers. Note the plan's impact on Ohio and southwestern Pennsylvania. And West Virginia, which had 11 centers barely two years ago, would be left with only Charleston.

Ohio Valley: "After"
Ohio Valley: Currently

Declining mail volume, increased automation, and revised service standards have meant the Postal Services needs fewer locations that can sort mail. The use of Flats Sequencing System (FSS) machines has tended to cause even more consolidation of processing into huge distribution centers, some of which have 2,000 employees (versus as few as 50 in the kinds of small centers that are typically targeted for closure).

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Anonymous said...

From an Electronic Technician with the Postal Service,

Your first map(s) are already way out of date. There are far fewer than 461 processing facilities at present. You show Louisiana with six, but two of those have been out of mail processing for more than a full year.

D. Eadward Tree said...

You're right, Anonymous. The first map shows the facilities prior to consolidation, presumably as of early this year. Some of the plants shown on the "before" map have already been closed.

Unknown said...

What this map does not show is the interstate routes. You can put a dot anywhere and it will still be a dot, but you can not place a highway where there is one that does not exsist. In part, there is no rationalization to move mail hundreds of mails away to process and then bring it back to deliver. Someone needs to check their math. Last time I checked desiel fuel cost more the regular gas, so if you drive it one hundred miles away and then turn around and bring it back how is this a savings? Even their process models don't add up. When you chase a number all you get is a number. But if you add accountability to the matrix then you get results.

Jeff said...

Read this for the truth:

120 P&DF's and 15 multi-million dollar consolidation hubs which haven't even been built yet. This plan actually improves service for the bulk mailers while destroying it for the American citizen the USPS was created to serve in the first place...