The U.S. Postal Service's Use of Railroads to Transport Mail

GGD-77-23: Published: Feb 25, 1977. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1977.

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The U.S. Postal Service's use of the railroads (RR) for transporting the mails was reviewed, with the focus on the decline of RR use, types of service the RR can provide, and whether the RR industry receives an equitable opportunity to obtain mail transportation contracts.

The Service's use of the RR has declined primarily because of (1) reduction in available rail service, (2) growth of highway and air modes of transportation, (3) increased competition from private bulk mail carriers, and (4) establishment of mail delivery standards. Delivery standards make time the primary factor in selecting a transportation mode, which generally eliminates rail for first-class and time-value mail, and RR terminal handling is time-consuming and costly regardless of distance traveled. Railroads are competitive in long-distance bulk mail. The RR industry does receive an equitable opportunity to obtain mail contractors. There is no indication that highway is used when rail can provide adequate service.

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