WSJ: USPS Freight Brokers, A Risky Trade-Off

In an attempt to reduce costs, USPS adoption of freight brokers has led to increased highway risks and loosened mail protection, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.

WSJ: USPS Freight Brokers, A Risky Trade-Off
Photo Credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

This story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The United States Postal Service (USPS), has been grappling with numerous financial and logistical challenges in recent years. Amid concerns over budget constraints and service efficiency, the USPS has adopted a new strategy that involves using freight brokers for the transportation of mail. While this tactic has the potential to reduce costs, it also raises questions about the agency's ability to guarantee the safe and timely delivery of mail.

Key Freight Brokers in the USPS's New Strategy

Under a strategy implemented in 2021, USPS has been contracting freight brokers to handle mail transportation, essentially compromising certain safety measures for cheaper services and higher flexibility. The USPS uses freight brokers like Carroll Fulmer Logistics, Total Quality Logistics, and Trinity Logistics to coordinate transportation of mail between various distribution sites. Trinity Logistics was recently contracted to transport mail between California and Florida at a rate of $1.88 per mile, a significantly lower rate compared to the traditional contractors. Similarly, when USPS switched contracts from a problematic trucking company to ITS Logistics and Coyote Logistics, they managed to negotiate prices about 15% lower than before for the same routes.

Controversy Over Safety Measures

Critics argue that this cost-cutting strategy may compromise safety, pointing to the fact that these brokers sometimes perform little or no screening of the drivers in advance. As a result, there have been instances of drivers with criminal records or insufficient experience handling the mail. In several documented cases, drivers with criminal convictions and histories of reckless driving were found to be hauling mail under contracts held by these freight brokers.

The Trade-Off Between Cost-Effectiveness and Safety

USPS disputes that costs drove the shift towards using freight brokers more extensively, citing that it was primarily to address capacity and reliability challenges. However, the trade-off between cost-effectiveness and safety remains a concern as the USPS continues to lose money and grapple with reliability issues. As the USPS's approach evolves, the challenge lies in balancing fiscal responsibility with the agency's commitment to providing a dependable, safe mail service.

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