The day – Biden’s spending plan would give the Postal Service $ 6 billion to replace dangerous mail trucks
According to the agency, the funding included in President Joe Biden’s massive social spending program would allow the U.S. Postal Service to power 70% of its massive mail delivery fleet with battery-powered electric power by the end of it. of the decade, a major victory for Biden and Postmaster. General Louis DeJoy, who lobbied Congress for money.
The $ 1.75 trillion legislation unveiled in the House on Thursday includes roughly $ 6 billion for the postal agency to buy trucks from Oshkosh Defense, which won a supply battle in February to produce the fleet, dubbed ” Next Generation Delivery Vehicles ”or NGDV. The postal service plans to purchase up to 165,000 NGDV, which can run on battery or gasoline.
Post spokesman David Partenheimer told the Washington Post on Friday that with the funding, the agency’s vehicle acquisitions could be fully electric by 2028, a major acceleration in the company’s procurement plans. ‘agency.
These trucks would replace the 30-year-old, gas-guzzling “long-life vehicles” or LSVs that have a reputation for catching fire after years of excessive use. The first of the new trucks is expected to be released in 2023, according to postal officials.
LLVs, which debuted in 1987, do not have airbags or air conditioning. In 2020, they had a fuel economy of 8.2 miles per gallon, according to Postal Service measurements, and used 97.7 million gallons of gasoline.
NGDVs are equipped with modern safety devices, including air bags, backup cameras and ergonomic seats. They also feature air conditioning, a cause for celebration among letter carriers across the country.
“If we are serious about tackling emissions in the transportation sector, which is now the largest emitting sector, you have to electrify vehicles and you have to make these large fleets of vehicles,” Representative Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who has pushed for the electrification of the postal park for years, said in an interview. “It’s just overeating this transition.”
Biden a few days after taking office signed an executive order to convene a task force to push for the electrification of the federal government’s 645,000 civilian vehicles; the 231,000 postal service vehicles constitute the largest component of the federal fleet. But the postal agency is severely underfunded, and the long-term decline in mailing activity to individuals and businesses – the main source of revenue for the Postal Service – has made buying electric trucks very difficult.
DeJoy told House panels in February and March that the agency could only afford to electrically only 10% of NGDV’s fleet without additional funding from Congress. Agency officials told lawmakers that complete electrification, including improving the infrastructure of postal facilities to accommodate charging stations, would cost $ 8 billion, although electric trucks are not suitable for all. mail delivery routes.
“As an agency that is otherwise self-funded, the US Postal Service appreciates Congressional recognition that our electric ambition does not currently match our financial situation and urgent operational needs,” Partenheimer said in a statement. sent by email.
The legislation is still on thin ground. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Overturned a planned vote on the bill Thursday night after the House Progressive Caucus threatened to withhold support if it could not also vote on a larger set of expenses. It is also unclear whether Senators Joe Manchin III, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, support the measure, or whether spending on postal matters could wipe the parliamentarian out of the Senate.
Investors still looked bullish on the news. Oshkosh stock jumped 6 percent on Thursday, to nearly $ 8 a share, even as it announced a 16 percent drop in operating profit for the quarter during a presentation by his results. Its stock held its gains on Friday morning, but remained broadly stable. A company spokesperson declined to comment.
The truck program emerged in the spring as one of the few commonalities between the White House, Congressional Democrats, and DeJoy. Top Democrats – including those pushing for postal truck financing – have called for DeJoy’s removal due to the agency’s slow deliveries and perceived missteps ahead of the 2020 presidential election. And the initial power plan DeJoy’s 10% share of NGDV initially shook liberal lawmakers.
But after months of negotiations, including on a larger postal overhaul bill that has since stalled, Congressional Democrats and DeJoy have reached a deal on truck financing, fueled in large part by the dangerous state of the LLV fleet. Postal workers across the country regularly talk about being stranded on their routes when their trucks break down; the postal service spends more than $ 700 million a year on maintenance of LLVs, according to its inspector general.
NGDVs have side entry doors to the cargo compartments and standing access from the driver’s seat to the loading area, reducing the need for carriers to unload packages from the back of their trucks. Letter carriers were injured and even killed after other vehicles collided with their LLVs as they were unloading them in the rear loading areas.
The new trucks are also a key part of DeJoy’s controversial 10-year plan for the postal service, parts of which, such as higher prices and slower service, have already been rolled out. NGDVs have more cargo space than LLVs and are designed to carry more packages as the postal service focuses from courier to package delivery.