Postal Service + Wind Farm + Electric Vehicles – What could possibly go wrong?

I would not have believed this had I not seen this come from this idiot’s Senator’s mouth. Take the three most inefficient and subsidized things in government today, add them together, and there’s no way that spells SUCCESS. It does spell FAIL though.

From Fox News website (via C-SPAN)

As the potential collapse of the United States Postal Service looms on the horizon, one Senate Democrat has proposed an unusual plan to solve the crisis.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) looks to harvest the electricity that windmill farms produce in order to power a new fleet of battery-operated postal delivery vehicles, replacing the previous ’25 to 30 years old’ ‘dilapidated’ vehicles.

The Senator admits the idea is “out there” but concludes that “we need to be thinking boldly, and the postal service needs to do that”

Watch the video:

If you are a constituent you need to sound off. The stupidity of this idea is not only robust, it is unprecedented. Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.

They’d be FORD’s  (Found On Road Discharged) the first day.

(h/t) Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

About these ads

145 thoughts on “Postal Service + Wind Farm + Electric Vehicles – What could possibly go wrong?

  1. It’s no wonder the watermelon’s have buffaloed so many Democrats. Hopefully this guy is not the sharpest knife in the democratic drawer.

  2. supercujo says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm
    “The actual US Postal service actually makes a profit, the union negotiated pension package is what is killing them.”

    The pensions are part of what the workers cost; so excluding the pensions from this cost is sophistry.
    They were profitable would they not need to pay pensions, but as they need to, they are not.

  3. supercujo says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm
    The actual US Postal service actually makes a profit, the union negotiated pension package is what is killing them.
    >>>>>>>>>>

    Is that all? Simple solution really, worked for GM who was in the same boat. Just have the government buy them.

    Oh, wait…. never mind.

  4. Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.
    >>>>>>>>>>>

    Well that’s easily fixed too. Just have the electric cars park on the corner in each neighbourhood. Residents will be required to bring their mailbox to the car. That would cut out 98% of the starts and stops and save even more money! Even better, we could convince everyone to stop sending paper documents in the mail and only send electronic documents and save more fuel still.

    Oh, wait…. never mind.

  5. Neither ran nor sleet nor snow will keep us from completing our appointed rounds, but lack of wind will keep our vehicles in the garage.

  6. Well that was quick!
    I started my daily ‘spot the lunatic’ exercise and finished in less than two minutes. An all time record.

  7. Postal Service 1. is not government 2.not subsidized 3.been a “cash cow” for congress for decades – price of stamps is really a hidden tax. 4. Has experience with electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. This electric vehicle program has been in the works for years – has been testbed for smart grid technology. Will this save the USPS. No.

  8. Typical Democrat. He has no thought about paying for either the wind turbines or the vehicles. I suppose he thinks that Congress passing his idea will make them appear like magic.

  9. I beg to differ; it’s a good idea (the cars, not the windmills). Number One Son drove a high-school electric project car around for a while (it wasn’t much more than a golf cart that ran on lead-acid batteries, but it was street-legal). Then one summer he worked for the Postal Service. He quickly observed that an with low daily mileage, an electric car made more sense than starting and stopping the gasoline-powered little trucks and vans the USPS now uses. They are required to shut them off every time the driver gets out to walk half a block, which is hard on the engines, and means they never really warm up. Electric cars would be more efficient, cleaner, and longer-lived.

    /Mr Lynn

  10. Just as long as it’s the leftist Democrats, and not Republicans of any stripe, that advocate these costly, nutty endeavors. I mention this because it is important that we stem any effort to revive Republican / conservative interest in taking up “the cause” again of the leftists on AGW. My Tom Nelson comment on this:

    RINO Repub Huntsman was virtually lynched for his adamant and self-righteous pushing of the leftist AGW. I think he was puzzled a bit by the voters’ reaction; it appears that some of the establishment Repubs just seemed tone deaf to the people constituting their own party, of which in a recent Pew poll only 19% of Repubs believed in man-made GW.
    In years past, conservatives were duped good, indeed made a fool of, by the leftists on agw. Now, we can have moderate Repubs, but never again will they get away with espousing the Marxist-motivated and extensively debunked climate theory of the econuts.

  11. Andrew Newberg says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    “They’d be FORD’s (Found On Road Discharged) the first day.”

    I thought it was Fix Or Repair Daily…

    “Found On The Road Dead” back in the days of the PIntos with the vulnerable gas tanks.

    /Mr Lynn

  12. I’m surprised this clown didn’t suggest putting windmills atop the new electric vehicles to recharge them as they drive.

    Arts majors may need to ask science majors about this. XD

  13. Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.

    I’m surprised at that statement. You’re much more knowledgeable in this area than I am, but I would think that a start/stop regime would be appropriate for an electric vehicle. When you take your foot off the gas in an internal combustion vehicle it has to keep running. Electric just stops sending juice to the motor. Is it the startup load that’s the issue?

    On another note, I live in Delaware (I know, with representatives like these it’s embarrassing, but I live down state where there is some semblance of rationality) and we have three communities in our area. The first two were started some years ago and have mailbox delivery at our houses. The newest one requires the owners to go to a central area to get their mail. Sort of like an apartment mailbox area only outside. Just wait, it’s coming to the rest of us.

    Carper is just trying to find justification for the offshore wind project here that’s not going anywhere.

  14. BarryW says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I’m surprised, too. I hesitate to contradict Anthony, who actually owns an electric car, but I think he’s mistaken about the utility of electric vehicles in start-and-stop work.

    /Mr Lynn

  15. Well, if they just put little windmills on the vehicles they could make the electricity as they drive. Maybe put some little propellers on their hats, too. /sarc

  16. DirkH says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    supercujo says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    “The actual US Postal service actually makes a profit, the union negotiated pension package is what is killing them.”

    The pensions are part of what the workers cost; so excluding the pensions from this cost is sophistry.

    It’s only “part of what the workers cost” because the unions have inflated the pensions. I see no reason that government employees should get a dime more than what I and millions of other workers will get when we retire—Social Security. Instead, they will retire on much more money than I’ll ever see.

    Claiming this is not an issue is indeed sophistry …

    w.

  17. Andrew Newberg says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    ““They’d be FORD’s (Found On Road Discharged) the first day.”
    I thought it was Fix Or Repair Daily…”

    There was also Found On Road, Dead. (Happy ex owner of a Ford Escort Turbodiesel).

  18. Mr Lynn says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:38 pm
    “I beg to differ; it’s a good idea (the cars, not the windmills).”

    Electric motors require a huge current from standing start to normal running speed, and since the number of stop starts is high, and the fact that recharge time would be only in short bursts between stops, the batteries would be discharged quite quickly..

  19. fxk says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:38 pm
    Postal Service 1. is not government 2.not subsidized 3.been a “cash cow” for congress for decades – price of stamps is really a hidden tax. 4. Has experience with electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. This electric vehicle program has been in the works for years – has been test bed for smart grid technology. Will this save the USPS. No.

    Yes, you are correct. There is some issue with the recent payments USPS is supposed to make to the retirement system.

    The real issue is not the straw men that USPS keeps throwing out under the bus.

    USPS’s problems are that it expanded hugely during the massive boom in both first class and third class mail. Incredible amounts of people were hired to move this country’s mail. At the same time, USPS was aggressively researching and implementing automation. That is, the ability to sort and handle mail mechanically.

    The good news is that USPS (and many other countries Postal Services) succeeded.

    The bad news is that mail volume started dropping in the 1990s. First class mail was the first to see the decline. Recently even third class (bulk also colloquially called junk), has been dropping as advertisers are finding email much cheaper and cost wise a very successful advertising method.

    Back in the late eighties and very early nineties, a Postmaster General named Tony Frank promised, as in agreed, the unions of the USPS workers a “no layoff” clause.

    This no layoff idea and promise combined with a massive automation of the mail stream means that for USPS to keep all of those workers, productivity drops. “Work always expands to fit allowed time.” This isn’t to say those workers are not working hard. USPS also employs an immense staff of postmasters, supervisors and managers; their job is to make sure all of those employees work hard.

    What USPS has far to many of is postoffices and processing centers. USPS could easily do away with thousands of postoffices and many of their processing centers. Yes, this would certainly impact the staff at those sites.

    The real reason USPS has not addressed this issue is because the USPS greatly fears both the American public and their legislators. NO legislator wants USPS to close a facility in their area while they are in elected office. Following that main reason, USPS management has an inability to really believe that the mail stream is vanishing and to take the necessary steps. So, like so many others they blame their ineptness on Congress and want to be bailed out.

    The big magic monopoly granted to USPS is the care and delivery of personal messages which is the basis for first class mail. America’s founders reasoned that freedom depends of safe secure communications between people.

    USPS probably should have grabbed onto email as it birthed and sought to enforce the same protections given to first class mail. Maybe it will still figure this part out.

  20. Mr Lynn says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Starting a vehicle from a dead stop takes a lot of energy. Starting a gasoline engine takes almost no additional fuel with today’s fuel injector technology. However, if your electricity is “free” and tax payers are buying the new electric cars…

  21. The newest one requires the owners to go to a central area to get their mail. Sort of like an apartment mailbox area only outside. Just wait, it’s coming to the rest of us.

    I’ve owned two different houses on two different coasts in the last 21 years, and I’ve had community mailboxes all that time.

  22. Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.

    Huh? I thought electric vehicles with Regenerative Braking would fair comparatively well in start-stop uses such as mail routes. Diesels are for long haul. …. At least that’s the myth I learned from Scientific American over the years. So what’s the current scoop?

    REPLY: Regenerative braking only recovers a fraction of the energy, that fraction can vary anywhere from 10% to 90% depending on conditions, speeds, and design…my typical experience with my electric vehicles is about 25-35%. – Anthony

  23. Mike says: April 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm
    Biden and now this guy? Maryland, can you do a little better please?
    —————
    This guy’s from Delaware not Maryland. Please don’t accuse us of sending this clown gentleman to Congress.
    [Unfortunately, Maryland sends more than its fair-share of "useful idiots" to Congress as it is.]

  24. OMG. Words cannot express the amount of FAIL contained within this one video.

    First, we start with the grossly inefficient Postal Service
    Then add to that two unproven and inefficient energy technologies
    And the result is supposed to be one grand super efficient system? Right….

    I think someone is relying too much on the power of fairy dust, unicorn farts and wishful thinking.

  25. Ben D. says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Electric motors require a huge current from standing start to normal running speed, and since the number of stop starts is high, and the fact that recharge time would be only in short bursts between stops, the batteries would be discharged quite quickly..

    How about work vehicles like electric forklifts? They spend all day starting and stopping.

    Then there’s regenerative braking, as Stephen Rasey mentions above.

    And, of course, you could keep the electric motor running at a modest speed, and just push a pedal, engaging a belt drive. That would save the starting surge on the battery.

    Time for some real-world experience!

    /Mr Lynn

  26. Just like gov’t grants for climate change, lets think up a way to throw billions more at a failing business plan.

  27. The only thing Democrats excel at is getting elected. Nothing else is on their horizon unless it somehow is tied to their inane ideology of saving the planet or creating nirvana.

    Too bad they fail miserably at eveything else.

  28. When I drive freeways and surface streets with my Prius, the battery stays charged. I save $1,500 a year on gas. Yay.

    When I drive downtown (here in San Diego), and stop and start at the lights and all the stop signs, my battery empties very quickly – Postal Service vehicles stop and start WAY more I do on their daily routes.

    Ergo: Regenerative braking, which I have, is not enough to recoup the energy lost with all the stops a Postal Service car must make.

  29. Carper is right that the idea is out there. Maybe it would work on the Moon if you replaced wind with solar power.
    Less gravity = less power to move vehicles
    Less air = less resistance to movement
    No clouds = more sun to convert to power
    And there is no one to deliver mail to so 28 miles should be a fine range.
    The Post-normal science NASA might even be able to make it work.

  30. Drole! Programmed failure is what the gummit does best. They plan it, implement it, and it goes over the cliff with all our money in it. Carper’s no slouch, but he’s not the one driving the little car in the big clown parade.

  31. You can use a flywheel system for stop/start if the stops are of short duration. Where I live the mail truck parks, the mailman delivers mail in the surrounding blocks, the truck moves several blocks, mailman gets out and delivers more, etc. The truck is parked more than it is driving in my neighborhood.

  32. This guy’s from Delaware not Maryland. Please don’t accuse us of sending this clown gentleman to Congress.
    [Unfortunately, Maryland sends more than its fair-share of "useful idiots" to Congress as it is.]

    Well, maybe if the state had a more competent congressional delegation the state could grow a little and maybe absorb some of those Eastern shore counties. I frankly think Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Caroline counties might rather be part of Delaware anyway. /sarc

  33. The demise of the US Postal system has featured on Australian television recently.
    Our ‘corner’ Post Offices are part of a franchising system, where the owner/operators are independent business people that work to a set system that really works well, the operators seem happy and enthusiastic. Rural area deliveries are contracted out and operators provide their own transport, definitely not electric.

    http://auspost.com.au/working-with-us/postal-outlets-and-retail-operations.html

  34. CV says: April 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm I’m surprised this clown didn’t suggest putting windmills atop the new electric vehicles to recharge them as they drive.

    20 years ago, one of the US railroads put solar-electric systems on railroad cabs to power the night lights.

  35. Chris B says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm
    It’s no wonder the watermelon’s have buffaloed so many Democrats. Hopefully this guy is not the sharpest knife in the democratic drawer.

    No, but he *is* the sharpest light bulb in the knife drawer…

  36. But, but, but…Britain had a whole fleet of electric milk delivery vehicles from the 50’s to the 80’s – or so. They worked really well, and that was door to door delivery just like mail. You have a known, shortish route each day. It’s very stop-start, and then you drive back to the depot to recharge overnight, using off peak power.

    The reason that Britain used electric vehicles for this is that they delivered the milk very early in the morning and they wanted to be quiet – but it would still work for mail services.

  37. Here in the UK we have used small electric vehicles to deliver milk to households for decades.
    These are door to door runs through residential areas. They must be economically feasible to have been used for so long and will do 60+ miles on an overnight 240V charge.
    In a recent flash of inspiration, where I live they are also being used for small parcel deliveries. When you hear the faint whirr of the milk float go past first thing in the morning it could mean when you finally get out of bed you could find two pints of milk and that book you ordered waiting for you.

    http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/

    • For all those that pointed out that the UK has an electric milk car, I had no idea. I’m only drawing on my own experience with my own electric cars (I’ve had three now) and while I can maybe get 40 miles on a charge in point to point driving, it drops to a little more than half that in stop/go city traffic. Watching the ammeter when starting shows significant power surges, up to 150 amps, which is my max battery output in my current model. So the question is: what is different about the UK milk delivery vehicles? Anyone have a picture of the innards and/or specs?

  38. Thinking boldly? How about thinking about reigning in deficits for starters? How in the world does using electric vehicles, energized miraculously only by windmills (even if it were possible) save the post office? How does such a man get elected to such a high office?
    Doomed I tell you…..

  39. Mr. Lynn and BarryW are right. Electric is best at stop-start service; most actually recover some energy from “braking” regen, to the point that users actually have little use for their friction brakes. They are also very efficient at low RPM and speeds, when ICE engines are very wasteful. Miles per charge of EVs soars in pure stop-go city driving, but declines at highway speeds, the opposite of ICE cars.
    Sorry, Anthony, you got that point backwards.

    REPLY:
    Again, going from my own experience with my own electric vehicles, start/stop reduces the range – significantly. I suppose it all depends on the design. An electric vehicle designed to meet speeds needed for city/highway transit is a different animal than a milk truck…clearly they worked in Britain, so the question is would they work for the US mail? Any of the NEV’s with 35mph top speeds I have driven clearly would not. – Anthony

  40. Anthony; your personal experience suggests no regen, and a very “primitive” EV. What are you driving?

  41. Carper should check with Hank Johnson to be sure the new vehicles won’t capsize when washed.

  42. PS;
    At highway speeds, air resistence is the dominant MPG determinant. If you have a little boxy golf-cart-type vehicle, vs. a slippery highway design, then you’re just using the wrong tool for the job.
    Unless your car was designed to work like a box-fish; Mercedes did a concept car back in ’05 with a very unusual shape:

    http://www.gizmag.com/go/4133/

  43. This may not be as straight forward as it seems. Here in Connecticut the commuter railroad from New Haven to New York has been electrified for more than half a century. Stations are about ten to fifteen miles apart, and electric trains, which draw their power from overhead wires for most of the trip and then “third rail” starting in the Bronx, are better able to get up to speed and then decelerate than diesels, which are better suited for long-haul, steady speed operations. Internal combustion engine vehicles also have better mileage on highways than in stop and go city traffic. It would not surprise me that electric vehicles do somewhat better in cost-per-mile and time-in route than IC vehicles in stop and go situations, but if electric costs are necessarily going to sky rocket, that advantage may not be permanent.

  44. It’s all good. Nothing teaches like failure. When this falls apart on the very first day, there are going to be a lot of people in that classroom suddenly forced to look again and think New Thoughts. There’ll be a bunch more of converts out of this.

  45. If I ever (shudder to think) just had to be forced to get into one of those little cars… first, it would have a blinking light on top. Second, I would have a good loud cb radio with a springy antenna to try to talk to the trucker that just lodged me underneath his semi-trailer. With the side-skirts they have on many trailers now, nobody might ever see someone hung under there. Third, smoke bombs to hopefully attract attention with. Fourth, something to flatten tires with, like possibly a 30-06.

  46. @ Mr Lynn and DirkH

    Gimme a Ford over the Govt. Motors any day.

    Maybe the USPS should replace their fleet with some Karma’s… they could get a custom model…perhaps named the SNAFU…

    I had a Pinto in college…it was in near mint condition when Grandma handed over the keys…

    It took me up to Mt. Baker, and its record snowfalls, no problems, I just left early to avoid traffic. It was hard to get the 207’s wedged inside however. I never had an issue with the gas tank, but there was a stick plugging a hole in the oil pan for awhile…we took it on a few dirt roads on our piscatorial pursuits!

  47. Slow down guys. Electric vehicles could work. As Anthony says range and battery life would be way less for stop & go than for cruising but good engineering could make it function. Dynamic braking is proportional to the cube of velocity so it would be ineffective at low speeds. I have observed this on electric tower cranes.
    The issue is that the business model is bad and that type of delivery needs to be replaced with centralised box sites and less frequent delivery by subcontractors. Get rid of all the vehicles. The whole system has to be rationalised to current needs. Expensive new vehicles are a red herring solution. The windmills are just plain nutty.

  48. Lew Skannen says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Well that was quick!
    I started my daily ‘spot the lunatic’ exercise and finished in less than two minutes. An all time record.
    ______________________________________________________________

    It is not often that reading this website invokes audible laughter from me….chortles, smiles, frowns….etc., yes, but not what just occured before this keyboard.

    Thank you.

  49. Anthony

    You confessed you did not know about UK electric milk floats. Here is a site which tells you everything you need to know about them;

    http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/faq.html

    They have been used for at least 60 years here and are absolutely brilliant in not only their ability to carry large heavy loads and their quieteness, but also that they seem idealy suited to their stop start nature.

    As several other people have commented, a similar technology is being used for private parcel deliveries but currently on a small scale.

    All in all this seems a very sound and practical idea by the postal services provided they meet similar criteria to milk deliveries as regards distances travelled etc

    tonyb

  50. Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.

    I don’t know why you would say this. Electric vehicles have long been used for stop/start applications. 50 years ago in the UK most people had their milk delivered by electric milk floats. Their average distance between stops would have been 20 or 30 feet. Include regenerative braking and they would be far more energy efficient than petrol vehicles.

    The windmills are of course a bad idea.

  51. I lived in England for some years. The milk floats were quite large (think the size but not the shape of a mini-bus). It is worth noting that although they were used to deliver milk, they were not used for delivering mail, probably because they were very slow and were only used in the early mornings before traffic hit the road. As an early morning driver, I can tell you they were bloody awful to be stuck behind.

  52. Anthony-

    Perhaps the difference in the milk floats and an electric car is the max speed. Looking at the Wikipedia article,. the milk float’s speed was between 10 and 16 mph (16 and 26kph).

    While 10 mph is probably okay for house-to-house delivery in a residential neighborhood, it is going to be too slow to get from the P.O. to where the route begins. It is interesting to note that the wikipedia article says that many electric milk floats are being replaced with petrol and diesel powered vehicles to speed delivery.

    I too recall that the USPS experimented with electric vehicles. From a Washington Post article, March 4, 2010, about yet another proposal for the USPS to use electric vehicles, at :

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/03/AR2010030304085.html

    “Electric vehicles are not new to the Postal Service. They were in use early in the 1990s but fell to the wayside because batteries were too big, and gas was incredibly cheap, said Nancy Pope, a curator at the National Postal Museum. Since then, the Postal Service has employed other alternative-fuel vehicles, including 30 electric trucks that are used to take mail to processing plants in New York City, Brennan said.
    Electric-car manufacturers have been eyeing partnerships with the Postal Service for years. In 1996, the Postal Service teamed with General Motors to convert several delivery trucks to electric power, but GM ended up canceling its entire electric-vehicle program a couple years later because production costs were too high. In 2000, Ford was awarded a contract for 500 electric vehicles, but that program was canceled because of limited battery availability, and Ford dropped its electric-vehicle program because of high costs as well”

  53. Anthony, milk float electrics ar quite simple. Control systems reminiscent of the late 1800’s. :-) Top speed usually less than 15 mph.

    Here’s a fan site with some technical documents.

    Methinks that a hybrid is a much better idea, using the electric drive for transmission and a small diesel generator to charge the batteries and to provide some of the necessary drive current during acceleration and all of it when “cruising”.

  54. Can’t quote an actual spec for the UK milk float but, if it helps, about three tons of its three-and-a-half ton tare weight was the tray of (lead-acid) battery under the floor pan. I know this because a (then) milkman friend, after a good night out, loaded up his float one morning, drove out of the depot, fell asleep at the wheel and – without trying! – wrote off four of his workmates’ vehicles, which had been parked opposite the depot entrance. Ouch! So start from assuming that most of the weight was lead in the batteries. It would be interesting to see how (say) a Li-ion model compares.

    However, fond memories of ‘em – as others have pointed out, they worked really well, and obviously lasted long enough to be economically realistic. You used to see surprisingly old milk floats still doing their daily duty after 20 years or more on the road.

    It sounds like the US postal service is going the same way as the British one. Since the Fedex’s, DHL’s and so on were allowed to leach all the profitable (mostly round-town business post) services from the Post Office, the latter has struggled visibly to maintain something like their previously excellent service. They – but not the others – are still required to provide “universal” service (i.e. including collections and deliveries in outlying places like the Shetland Isles, Scilly Isles, and so on), which costs money they no longer have coming in. Result: the price of stamps is going up another 30-35% at the end of this month and their business will drop even further. Sometimes, a state-operated monopoly can knock the “free” market into a cocked hat, as the present versus former state of the British Post Office proves.

  55. Further to my post at 12.10.

    Some people have commented on the speed of electric vehicles such as milk floats, but that is to assume that the vehicle collecting mail from the mail boxes then delivering bulk mail to the sorting office will be the same one as will deliver to individual households. Surely this is unlikely as the amount of mail going to individual rounds could not justify a vehicle as large as the one that transports the bulk mail around, which is likely to cause traffic problems in suburban streets anyway.

    Therefore, whilst speed may matter at one part of the collection process it is likely to be much less important during the final delivery aspect as this is limited anyway by the need to continually stop start.

    As for the comment that the milk services are swapping to petrol/diesel vehicles, this is true but this seems an attempt to ‘modernise’ rather than because its a good idea. This urge to modernise at all costs ironically caused the closure of the Royal Mails own dedicated underground railway line beneath London with all that means in terms of greater traffic now clogging up the streets overhead. This was a truly awesome system described in the link below.

    http://www.silentuk.com/?p=2792

    tonyb

  56. I drove a milk float back in the early ’70s. As has been pointed out, the top speed was derisory (and the comments from motorists stuck behind us very illuminating for a 14 year-old school boy!) but the acceleration to around 15 mph was quite good. The cornering was a bit suspect as well, not helped by the flat platform for the milk crates which tended to throw them onto the road if one’s driving was a bit “enthusiastic”.

    And, yes, for all those from the UK who might be about to write in pointing out that 14 year-old school boys weren’t old enough to have a driving licence, I know. Some things were best kept quiet for a few years.

  57. Please, don’t laugh. The idea of storing ‘spare’ electricity in the batteries of the cars owned by the general public was being mooted a couple of years ago in the UK.
    Don’t laugh – smile, feel sorry for them and give generously, for I feel that they can’t help it.

  58. One of the big reasons for the ever decreasing mail volume handled by the USPS is the ever increasing price of postage. The less mail they have to handle, the more they raise their prices, which in turn cuts the volume.

    The leftist answer to any reduction in income and profits is always to raise the price of the goods or service. It never works. It’s like making a bigger hole in the boat to stop it from sinking.

    The USPS should be completely privatized. Extend the mail fraud laws to cover all delivery companies (which would reduce crime involving mail because the crooks use FedEx to avoid being charged with mail fraud) and allow companies like FedEx and UPS to pick up and deliver from and to residential mail boxes.

    To denote which company you want to pick up from your box there’d need to be a standardized color code for flags or other markers for the box. Red for USPS because that’s what all the boxes have. Brown for USPS. Blue for FedEx.

    Which one you’d want to make a pick up from your box would depend on which companies have regular delivery traffic in your area. At least one UPS truck a day goes past my place.

    Putting all the companies on an even legal field could make it profitable for other companies to establish manned drop off offices in more towns.

    Technology could make unmanned drop off stations feasible by using a scale combined with a touch screen kiosk that takes cards and cash and prints out barcoded address and postage lables. Weigh what you’re mailing, enter the addresses, make payment, apply the printed label to your mail then dump it in the chute where cameras snap pictures and log the codes.

    Photos that’re kept until the packages are scanned at delivery (or for a short time after for damage claims) would make it easier to track lost mail and also reduce the amount of loss. If something arrives damaged the photos taken could be used to verify the package condition when it was mailed.

    With today’s image recognition technology for scanning many types of 2D data codes it would be simple to build small automatic mail and package sorting systems. Drop mail into a chute and a pivoting flap or chute diverts it to a specific bin for which ZIP code it is going to. If it’s going out of the local area drop it in a “long distance” bin for shipment to a bigger sorting site. Mail going out of the area would be cost more due to the further distance. Have sensors detect whether or not there’s any mail in a bin for a ZIP code and how much. If there’s only a few items a car could be dispatched to pick it up, if there’s a lot then send a truck.

    The USPS used to manually sort mail at most of the post offices. As automated sorting expanded, it became more efficient to reduce staffing and truck mail longer distances to larger cities, sort it then send mail back to the outlying areas.

    As mail volume drops the cost reducing solution could be to mothball the big centralized sorting centers and switch to smaller automated systems or even go back to manual sorting in some post offices.

    The USPS is stuck where it was in the pre-WWW era. UPS, FedEx and others developed more efficient systems. The USPS knows they’re more efficient and often ships bulk loads of mail through them. At times UPS and FedEx hand off packages to the USPS. I see their drivers in the local post office quite often and I’ve received packages in my mailbox with FedEx and UPS labels.

    As for email, in the 80’s there were some experiments with sending email to post offices where it would be printed out then put in envelopes for delivery to homes and businesses. IIRC there was also some way to send email from a post office. Sort of an Internet version of telegrams. When the public was allowed access to the Internet in 1992, plus the creation of the World Wide Web, email via USPS was instantly obsolete.

    Without modernizing, finding ways to shrink their workforce by cutting the “deadwood” in administration and reducing prices instead of always increasing them, the USPS is doomed to dry up and blow away.

  59. EVs along the lines of the British milk floats would probably do the job in densely populated areas, where the PO is close to the delivery round and mailboxes are close together. But, they are indeed very slow, and as mail (unlike milk) is typically delivered when there is a lot of traffic on busy roads they might cause a fair bit of annoyance to other road users. I doubt they’d be much good in sprawling suburban, semi rural or rural areas though. They would take a lot longer to get through their round than conventional vehicles, and time is money. Maybe there is a role for EVs in some circumstances, but I doubt that simple replacement is the answer.

    Here in Oz the posties ride little 80cc motorbikes with big boxes and panniers on them along the footpath to deliver letters and small parcels, except in the country. Large parcels are delivered separately by van, usually via contractors. It seems to work OK, and Australia Post makes a profit. They do contract out a lot of their rural deliveries, and use private postal agencies (typically newsagents or general stores) to keep costs down, though. And, they have their own fully funded superannuation scheme to pay pensions to retired employees, which is not showing any signs of sending them broke.

    As for the windmills – someone should send this guy a cap with a propellor on top, perhaps with a wire that could be attached to his frontal cortex for stimulation purposes.

  60. The whole is of course not about energy but about price.
    A kwh mechanical energy produced from windmill electrical energy is anywhere between 3 and 6 times more expensive than the same kwh mechanical energy produced with a Diesel engine.
    So the biggest problem is on the windmill side, the electrical car side may only make it marginally worse than what it already is.

    Beyond that it is clear that a start/stop regime (regardless whether one uses electrical or combustion engines) consumes MORE energy than a steady state (e.g highway like) regime at similar speed.
    This is because the transitory of getting up to speed has generally a high couple gradient and that consumes a lot of energy.

    So it seems obvious to me that the idea is economically stupid and it appears that in UK they are able to maintain economically stupid ideas for decades with nobody noticing.
    It is equally obvious that to compensate the economical inefficiency there must be somebody (generally the taxpayer or the customer) who pays the difference.

  61. Anthony, I feel the problem is people are trying to get petrol performance from a battery powered car.

    Milk floats in the UK were an excellent solution to delivering milk to every house in every street in an area.

    But trying to get ICE acceleration from a battery source, as you found, consumes vast amount of energy.

    Even drivers of small powered ICE cars use nearly all of their engines power during acceleration, do that in a battery and it soon goes flat.

    Acceleration slowly, either through choice or by control system design, and maximum ranges of electric cars will shoot up, but, no one will buy them!! :-)

  62. Grey Lensman says:
    April 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm
    So the 50 odd years of national milk delivery i n the Uk by electric milk float did not work.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_float

    Stop start, rain shine, heat cold, they always got through.
    =========================================================
    Um, nope, GL.
    Way back in the mid-60s I spent a year or so as a milk delivery man. In the depths of winter, all the diesel trucks were sent out to tow the electric floats to finish their round after they ran out of juice, and then back to base. (I was a truck-driver, mine was a semi-rural round.) The depot boss could estimate to a good degree of accuracy where the dead floats would be on their round, depending on how low the temperature was (he’d been in the job for many years).

  63. Anthony is correct about the high current draw at electric-vehicle start-up, but that merely means that the electric motor is applying high torque–as an internal-combustion engine would have to do if it could at low engine speed–and expending energy that a gasoline engine has to do, too, to get the car up to speed. There no doubt is a lot of efficiency lost in stop-and-go driving, but nothing I’ve heard lead me to believe that it’s worse for electric car than a gasoline one, and there’s every reason to believe it’s believe that it’s better, for the reasons previous responders have given.

    So, yes, electric cars probably get fewer miles per kWh starting and stopping than they do cruising, but that’s hardly a reason for preferring gasoline vehicles.

  64. CV and Geoff S

    You are jesting, but in Sweden we had an MP who suggested exactly that:

    That the batteries are charged by small windmills on top of the electric car while driving, to get rid of the nuisance of having to charge them over night.

    (in Swedish, with subtitles)

    And not only that: In the first you-tube version of this hilarious episode, the MP turned up (as a poorly disguised sock-puppet) and in the comments kept arguing that the idea wasn’t that bad after all. He abandoned the perpetuum mobile version, but defended the technical merits of his idea ..

    Astonishing! Need I say that he was a member of the reformed communist party?

  65. We could even run extension chords from our homes out to our mailboxes so they could re-charge at each stop! I mean really, what the Postal Service needs is just to spend more money on another stupid idea!

  66. For those correctly pointing out that the USPS isn’t subsidized by the federal government, it’s just a matter of time …

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service ended its 2011 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) with a net loss of $5.1 billion. The year-end loss would have been approximately $10.6 billion had it not been for passage of legislation that postponed a congressionally mandated payment of $5.5 billion to pre-fund retiree health benefits.

    http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2011/pr11_124.htm

    To reduce the cost of energy needed to move the mail around there are several options other than windmill-electric. Diesel is a mature and proven technology. Gasoline-electric or diesel-electric hybrid is a mature and proven technology. UPS and FedEx are moving in that direction.
    UPS Hybrid Electric Vehicle Fleet
    FedEx Hybrid Electric Fleet

  67. Well, I guess the current administrations energy policy’s have come home to roost. Gas was $1.87 a gallon when Obama took office and it’s now on ave about $3.80, what do you suppose that has done to the USPS with a huge fleet of antiquated vehicles?

    From the USPS website facts:

    “Conserving Energy

    The Postal Service operates the world’s largest fleet of alternative fuel-capable vehicles — more than 44,000 — most are equipped to use ethanol. There are electric, compressed natural gas, liquid propane gas and bio-diesel vehicles.
    Thousands of energy-saving projects have been completed, saving an average of 900 billion BTUs per year. Over 1 trillion BTUs of additional energy reductions have been identified.
    The Postal Service continues to use and benefit from solar power with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into electricity.
    Detailed energy audits are ongoing at our largest facilities — representing about 150 million square feet of space and roughly 70 percent of the energy consumption in the Postal Service.
    The Postal Service is testing 10 Navistar eStar electric step vans. This test is part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded through the Department of Energy. The new 2-ton vehicles will be tested in three locations: CA, NY and VA. ”

    Tried to determine how long it takes to charge the Navistar, it supposedly gets 100 miles to a charge, but they don’t tell you the charge time.

    Nice sentimants, but to save 1 Trillion BTU’s they have to use energy that costs more to produce! Bring back cheap gas and modernize the fleet to more fuel efficient non-flex fuel vehicles and they would save more money!

    IMHO

    Peter in MD (a state that claims the 2013 “Doomsday” budget is a cut of $500 million, when in fact it’s still 1.9% more than last year! Only in Gov’t can you budget more than last year and still call it a cut!)

  68. crosspatch says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    Well, if they just put little windmills on the vehicles they could make the electricity as they drive.

    USA hasn’t got a monopoly on idiot politicians. A Swedish member of parlament (leftist of course) actually suggested just that!

  69. http://www.silentuk.com/?p=2792
    tonyb

    Thanks, Tony B. for that link to the exploration of the abandoned Mail Rail system. I was not aware such a thing existed. I’ll send it to my railfan friends here in the USA.

    Re postal vehicles, we should be more specific about uses. Here in the suburbs and business districts of Framingham, MA, the mailman uses a small, right-hand-drive truck, which he drives a block or so, gets out and hits a few houses or offices, gets back in and drives another block or so, and so on. (The right-hand drive is to enable him to reach street-side mailboxes without getting out, but on our street at any rate many of the mailboxes are on or close to the houses.) I doubt that these trucks exceed 20 miles a day, and rarely more than 20-30 mph. Number One Son figured the primitive electric car he had could handle that job fine.

    In the ‘old days’ (back in the ’50s, say) the mailman mostly walked his route, but the rise of third-class ‘junk’ mail made that impossible; the stuff was too heavy for his bag.

    In more rural areas, there are more miles to travel, less stopping and starting, and you might run faster between stops. Here, too, electric vehicles could work, but then you run up against the limitations of battery life, so hybrids might be more useful.

    Re the USPS: To do away with it would probably require a Constitutional amendment, as the Congress is given the power in the Constitution “To establish Post Offices and Post roads.” Conceivably the Congress could simply fail to exercise that power, but arguably it is also a responsibility. In the age of email, the postman’s daily rounds may seem archaic, but, believe it or not, there are many who linger by the electronic wayside. And one has to wonder at the efficacy of a government which cannot successfully accomplish the basic function of “delivering the mail.”

    Re windmills along the entire eastern coast of the US, as the Senator prophesied, let us hope it does not come to fruition. Here in Taxachusetts, customers of National Grid (a power company) will likely have their electric rates skyrocket when (and if) the controversial Cape Wind project comes on line. What we need up and down the coast are oil rigs, not windmills!

    Re Sen. Carper’s idea of storing the power from windmills in postal vehicle batteries, if the idea is to use it for anything but running the trucks, it’s ridiculous. I expect there’s a reason why I have never heard of Sen. Carper before.

    Re the competition between Maryland and Delaware (above) for the most idiotic Congressmen, I’ve got you all beat: I live in Ed Malarkey’s district.

    /Mr Lynn

  70. A little more on Postal Service finances from NPR …

    The U.S. Senate passed legislation Wednesday aimed at shoring up the Postal Service while delaying proposed cutbacks. Now the issue moves to the House.
    [ ... ]
    Though the Postal Service is supposed to be entirely self-financed, it’s had to borrow $13 billion from the Treasury over the past two years to stay afloat.
    [ ... ]
    “The Postal Service later this year will have great difficulty even meeting its payroll if we do not act,” [Sen. Susan] Collins said. “The Postal Service will max out on its credit that it can borrow from the Treasury if we do not act.”

    http://www.npr.org/2012/04/25/151362826/senate-debates-plan-to-keep-post-offices-running

  71. atheok says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Back in the late eighties and very early nineties, a Postmaster General named Tony Frank promised, as in agreed, the unions of the USPS workers a “no layoff” clause.

    I’ve mailed a small newsletter for a couple decades and from the USPS workers I deal with (and others I socialize with), they’re pretty much all looking forward to the first early retirement package they qualify for. Morale? They’ve heard of that.

    OTOH, they say the pension problem is due to congressional meddling, I don’t know enough about it all to weigh in, and if I did, it wouldn’t be helpful. Life in a shrinking business that has defined benefit pension plans is stressful.

    I’ve been through chapter 11 with one company, and pretty much directly into chapter 7 at another. If it weren’t for the occasional Great Recession, 401ks and IRAs would be the better alternative for the semi-clueful employee.

    USPS probably should have grabbed onto email as it birthed and sought to enforce the same protections given to first class mail. Maybe it will still figure this part out.

    They tried – they started out with a service where you could send Email to the USPS, they’d print it out near the destination and deliver it the next day. It was more like a next-day telegram than Email and was nowhere close to a sweet spot. Email works because you can exchange several over the course of a day.

    As for modern Email, given the amount of junk mail delivered here on paper, I’d hate to see what the USPS could do electronically. :-)

    “email as it birthed”? I was among the first people to send Email between dissimilar operating systems (Tops-10 and TENEX, both on PDP-10s) around 1972 back in ARPAnet days. That would have been a bit early for the USPS to get involved!

  72. I really love the part about storing the excess electricity in the EV batteries. Are those vehicles for delivering mail or storing excess juice? Because if you drive them, they will need to be recharged every day.

    And to think this whole scheme makes sense to this man, and no doubt to many other people as well. With this type of understanding of technology, energy and economics, is it no wonder this country is in the shape it’s in?

  73. I finally watched what he said and it’s even more loony. He’s pushing off shore wind farms (a maintenance and corrosion nightmare). One Hurricane and there goes the East Coast power grid (gee, doesn’t he believe in CAGW generated storms?) He talks about storing the excess energy that can’t be used on the grid in the mail trucks batteries! So if we have some windless days we don’t get our mail delivered since we’ve got to use that “stored” energy for the grid? As Bug Bunny would say: “What a maroon!”

  74. How about natural gas-powered vehicles? We have plenty of natural gas (at least until Obama and the EPA get going) and we could easily install refueling stations at the post offices. This probably won’t work well for rural areas, but given the way government works, it’s probably what somebody will endorse.

    Seriously, the way to fix the Post Office starts with pension reform and a change to the union work rules. Next, lease a counter at the local supermarket or general store for rural areas that don’t need a stand-alone post office.

  75. I don’t know why so many people assume the PO drives to every house. In all the places I’ve lived, they walk a radius of 6 city blocks around the parked car, then move the car. The car moves about twice an hour.

  76. Getting rid of processing centers means that the processing centers in Wallowa County would have to send local mail 100 miles away, and then Pendleton would send it right back on the same road, just to deliver it next door to the Post Office it was dropped off at. If the one in Pendleton goes away, it would mean 400 miles to Portland, and then back to deliver mail to the entire NE corner of Oregon.

    Privatize it? Okay. Some areas of cities, towns, and rural locations will not have mail delivery. Why? The private company may not like them. It also means that mail fraud will skyrocket and private mail delivery will be an open road for terrorism. Packages will explode or leave toxic dust on your hands.

    But if we are willing to live with that risks and the costs, then okay. We already have quick delivery bikes and mom and pop delivery services here. It costs a lot more to deliver a birthday card to a family across town. But unsubsidized physical delivery will cost more. If that is what we want, we will have to live with it.

    Again, we have two choices. A government funded infrastructure similar to our roads, or privatized entities. Which is the lesser of two evils?

  77. BarryW says:
    April 26, 2012 at 6:01 am
    I finally watched what he said and it’s even more loony. He’s pushing off shore wind farms (a maintenance and corrosion nightmare). One Hurricane and there goes the East Coast power grid (gee, doesn’t he believe in CAGW generated storms?)

    Barry, Barry, Barry, if we build them, they won’t come, or we’ll just turn the windmills towards the storms and blow them back out to sea! The first hurricane defense system! /sarc

    Polistra,
    That’s fine in cities, but I’ve live in parts of New England where there are less then 25 houses in a mile, so the carrier drives up to each mailbox which is road side. I think there are many more rural areas’s like that then cities and towns. So the answer is probably a mixed fleet, especially in hilly/mountainous areas.

  78. Mr Lynn says:
    April 26, 2012 at 5:26 am

    [snip]

    Re the USPS: To do away with it would probably require a Constitutional amendment, as the Congress is given the power in the Constitution “To establish Post Offices and Post roads.” Conceivably the Congress could simply fail to exercise that power, but arguably it is also a responsibility. In the age of email, the postman’s daily rounds may seem archaic, but, believe it or not, there are many who linger by the electronic wayside. And one has to wonder at the efficacy of a government which cannot successfully accomplish the basic function of “delivering the mail.”
    ———————————————————————————-
    The fact that a Constitution gives a government the power to do something does not in any way require the government to do it. Our Constitution, being a bit later than yours, also covers telecommunications. But, the government privatised the original government owned telecommunications monopoly and there was not a whiff of a chance that it was unconstitutional to do so. What remains, as probably would in the US, is the power to regulate the industry.

    With regard to the economic situation of USPS, I read extensive comments on another site about the retirement benefits issue. The problem seems to be that it includes healthcare (which most countries do not expect retirement benefits to cover) and apparently a sweetheart deal done with the unions at some stage where people could retire after 20 years. It is not hard to see how this toxic combination would sink any enterprise into bankruptcy – just ask the big carmakers. But it seems that without these deadweights, USPS would be in the black as a trading enterprise.

    If I am wrong, please correct me. Postal services excite a lot of emotion in the political sphere and sometimes facts are hard to come by!

  79. How about canceling the free postal privileges for Congress. That should generate enough cash to put the postal service in the black.

    Oh and at least around here the truck tractors are leased and the rural delivery postal carriers use their own vehicles. I have not seen a small Postal vehicle (jeep) in years.

    I wonder how those electric postal vehicles will do pulling 53 foot trailers. This photo comes to mind.

  80. “The Senator admits the idea is “out there” but concludes that “we need to be thinking boldly, and the postal service needs to do that”

    Now, imagine that our entire national economy being commanded by such bod thinking. #Notfunny.

  81. more soylent green! says:
    April 26, 2012 at 6:02 am

    . . . Seriously, the way to fix the Post Office starts with pension reform and a change to the union work rules. Next, lease a counter at the local supermarket or general store for rural areas that don’t need a stand-alone post office.

    At the end of our road at Ednor, Maryland, many years ago there stood Cuff’s General Store (now long gone). Mr. Cuff was a gruff old fellow whose main product, as far as we kids were concerned, was penny candy. Inside the store was a separate room with a window that functioned as a Post Office branch, manned by a kindly Mrs. Tucker.

    No reason in the world why the Postal Service couldn’t set up little branches in supermarkets. Our nearby (and gigantic) Stop and Shop has a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a branch of Citizens Bank.

    /Mr Lynn

  82. I’m not usually someone that likes the political grandstanding that occasionally goes on in the comments section but in this case … this has to be dumbest idea I’ve seen this century.

  83. From Wikipedia:
    Before BEVs, dairy supplies were delivered using horse-drawn milk floats. This lasted from the late 19th century until the 1950s.[5] Today, with rounds expanding in coverage to ensure profitability in the face of falling levels of patronage, the limited range and speed of electric milk floats have resulted in many being replaced by diesel-powered converted va

  84. The next step is for the electrically powered postal vehicles to produce surplus electricity by mounting wind turbines on their roofs. As the vehicle moves, the movement will provide power to the wind turbine which will not only power the vehicle, but which will create excess power that will be stored in batteries and used to power the grid. I mean, what could go wrong?? /sarc

  85. davidmhoffer says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.
    >>>>>>>>>>>

    I realize that David M did not author this, but, this still deserves to be addressed:

    Electric vehicles do better on long hauls and commutes, stop/start a thousand times a day at each mailbox, not so much.

    kinetic energy recovery much?

    The whole ‘point’ of hybrids was kinetic (motion) and potential (descending from top of hill) energy ‘recovery’ of the energy expended in gaining forward movement (or ascending that hill) by using the motor as a generator when the brakes (literally: using ‘dynamic braking’) are applied … the same applies to electric vehicles (recovery of kinetic and potential energy.)

    In the case where one is constantly battling a head wind (at say 50 orm 60 mph) THIS energy is __not__ recoverable through any ‘magic’ tricks including dynamic braking trick described above …

    .

  86. Steve Richards says: April 26, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Anthony, I feel the problem is people are trying to get petrol performance from a battery powered car.

    Milk floats in the UK were an excellent solution to delivering milk to every house in every street in an area.

    But trying to get ICE acceleration from a battery source, as you found, consumes vast amount of energy.

    Even drivers of small powered ICE cars use nearly all of their engines power during acceleration, do that in a battery and it soon goes flat.

    Addressing this last point from a ‘lost energy’ perspective (ICE vs battery/electric):

    Electric (and hybrid) Vehicle * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Accelerating:

    Battery -< Chemical Energy -< Electrical Energy -< Motor -> Kinetic Energy

    Stopping:

    Kinetic Energy -< Generator -< Electrical Energy -< Chemical Energy -< Battery

    ICE (only) Vehicle * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Accelerating:

    Fuel -< Chemical Energy -< Thermal Energy -< Engine -> Kinetic Energy

    Stopping:

    Kinetic Energy –< Friction Brakes –< Thermal Energy -< Surrounding Air

    Conclusion:

    Use of “ICE only” motive power plant (engine/motor etc) results in unrecoverable Kinetic (forward motion) energy.

    How efficient the Generator -< Electrical Enegy -< Chemical Energy conversions work out to be are engineering/technical issues to be solved.

    .

  87. Mr Lynn says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm
    Andrew Newberg says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    “They’d be FORD’s (Found On Road Discharged) the first day.”

    I thought it was Fix Or Repair Daily…

    “Found On The Road Dead” back in the days of the PIntos with the vulnerable gas tanks.
    ——————————————-
    Actually it means First On Race Day.

  88. Yes, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to establish Post Offices (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7). That doesn’t mean it will take an amendment to do away with the USPS. It only takes an act of Congress.

    Congress could dissolve the USPS and privatize mail service. No Constitutional issue involved.

  89. Grant says:
    April 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    … How does such a man get elected to such a high office?

    Not even close to the worst I’ve heard. What about Hank Johnson from GA that worried that Guam would capsize if too many people moved to one side of the island?

    You just can’t make this stuff up.

  90. polistra says:
    April 26, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I don’t know why so many people assume the PO drives to every house. In all the places I’ve lived, they walk a radius of 6 city blocks around the parked car, then move the car. The car moves about twice an hour.
    _____________________________
    Why don’t they just go back to the Pony Express? Actually the use of a pony (or horse) drawn vehicle in town for delivery is not that idiotic because a horse/pony has a brain and is very good at memorizing a route. This makes it a bit of a time saver because the pony can haul the boxes and mail so the postman does not have to back track to the truck. It also saves wear and tear on the rotator cuff (shoulder) a common injury in mailmen.

    A one horse vehicle with shafts can have a “diaper” to catch manure. http://www.delcaminoequestrian.com/images/wedding_horse_rubber_shoes_phaeton.jpg

    This type of delivery with a trained horse/pony used to be very common. My husband’s aunt delivered milk using a pony cart.

  91. Hank Johnson was elected because his opposition was Cynthia McKinney, who not only is even more cerebrally challenged than he, but abused what little authority she was given. Unfortunately, they are both reflective of the community they represent. That community, though, is not typical of the rest of the state.

  92. Actually in the US there were Postal Processing Trains that had their own zip codes up through the 1950’s. Those post offices died about the same time most of the passenger service died. These were mobile processing centers that collected the mail from the stations, sorted it into its destinations and dropped it at the right mail hook along the route. They were a mainstay of the long distance mail service before the common use of air mail.

    On the electric postal vehicle issue: in the old days the postman parked the vehicle at the end of the block then walked the mail door to door (up to an hour out and back) returned to their vehicle moved to the next large block and walked the mail from the next bag. In that model, an electric vehicle with solar panels on the roof makes alot of sense, as the vehicle sits in the sun for an hour between 10 minute moves. On routes like that, electric vehicles make alot of sense, but you would still need to make sure the route wasn’t longer than 1/2 to 2/3 of the rated battery range to account for cold/cloudy weather use. For the standard modern route where the postman just drives up to the mailboxes, stops, stuffs mail in the box, then drives to the next box, electric cars would be a disaster.

  93. polistra says:
    April 26, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I don’t know why so many people assume the PO drives to every house. In all the places I’ve lived, they walk a radius of 6 city blocks around the parked car, then move the car. The car moves about twice an hour.
    _____________________________

    In my old neighborhood, the mailboxes were at the curb and the PO would drive to every one and put the mail in without getting out of the truck. In my mom’s neighborhood, in the same city, the mailboxes are next to the door, so the PO has to walk.

  94. @Gail: The carriage tour companies in Savannah, GA have “horse diaper” setups for two horse carriage teams as well – the diaper is part of the harness setup.

  95. The new US Postal System – at your service, but only when the wind blows. Thats Tuesday and Wednesday next week, then a gap of ten days or so, and then the Sateruday and Sunday. But since we do not work on Sunday, your won’t get anything then either.

    And the US needs to increase productivity and efficiencies?? Not with these brain-dead pirrocks in Congress.

    .

  96. >>TomB says: April 26, 2012 at 10:42 am
    >>>Not even close to the worst I’ve heard. What about Hank
    >>>Johnson from GA that worried that Guam would capsize if too
    >>>many people moved to one side of the island?

    How did that US Navy officer not burst into laughter? They must have special military schools, to teach a ‘straight face’ technique.

    Is this what affirmative action does for a nation??

  97. Owen in GA says:
    April 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    @Gail: The carriage tour companies in Savannah, GA have “horse diaper” setups for two horse carriage teams as well – the diaper is part of the harness set up.
    __________________________
    I used to do weddings with a two horse set-up (same carriage as in photo but pole instead of shafts) and used the bun bags. The “horse diaper” between shafts is much bigger and can hold a lot more so it is much better for all day use. Also you really do not need a two horse set-up given the load I have seen in postal trucks. A team of heavy draft horses by the name of Smuck and Louie had a record pull of 4900 pounds ~ over 2000lbs/horse. I have a 600 lb.Shetland pony that routinely pulls over 1000 pounds. The Shetland is the strongest horse for its size and can easily pull twice its own weight. They were used in coal mines in the USA as recently as 1950. In the UK they still had 55 ponies working in the mines in 1984. Shetlands live on air and founder on “fat air” one acre or less of decent grass will support a Shetland. They are calm and very smart too.

    At the rate fuel prices are increasing I may be hitching a pony team to drive to town for shopping. If my ponies were shod I would be doing it already.

    If PETA didn’t throw a hissy fit you could easily do a 25 to 30 mile route without stressing the animal. The electric vehicle has a max range of 100 miles. If PETA didn’t throw a hissy fit you could easily do a 25 to 30 mile route without stressing the animal (mainly walk with a bit of trot). The Pony Express riders were changed every 75 to 100 miles and horses were changed every 10 to 15 miles but they were running full out.

    HMMMmmmm Maybe I can get my Senator to make this a counter proposal for putting to work all those horses that have been abandoned. Kill two birds with one stone, not to mention a few mail men and motorists if they try to use crazy ex-race horses.

  98. Steve says:
    April 26, 2012 at 1:11 am
    Please, don’t laugh. The idea of storing ‘spare’ electricity in the batteries of the cars owned by the general public was being mooted a couple of years ago in the UK.
    ——————————

    Actually the idea of “distributed storage” through EV battery packs remains an important idea among the people that tout the “green” economy. I find it to be one of the more amusing fantasies of “green” EV lovin’ crowd. The Senator must have just been advised by one these geeks.

    Supposedly one of the benefits of the EV is that an owner could charge the battery up at off peak electrical rates and use it to power his home during peak rates. #1 If almost everybody had an EV there wouldn’t be anymore Off peak rate. #2 A battery pack has a finite number of cycles in its lifetime. The owner would be prematurely derading his expensive car battery in the hope of saving a few cents on his electrical bill.#3 Most people would drive there car to work during the day. #4 What happens when you need to drive somewhere but your battery is depleted from running household appliances? #5 Who in their right mind is going to want to bother with this crap? I barely feel like plugging up and recharging my kids’ Fisher Price Power wheels Escalade after the kids are done with it.

  99. Gail: I hear you on the shetlands. My wife had one as a child that got into the feed shed and foundered as a result. Died of greedy over eating in one setting – you’d think they would know better.

    Personally I love draft horses. My experience is they tend to be much better mannered than the smaller breeds. When an Arabian would bite and kick you, a Belgian will just roll its eyes at you. I have had good experiences with Morgans as well, but I’ve never seen a Morgan lift its hoof for you to get a stone out. Had a Belgian practically knock me down with that dishplate hoof when he lifted it before I was set. He did have the decency to look sheepish about it. The biggest problem in Savannah is keeping the draft horses’ body temperatures down.

    We could contract mail delivery to the Amish, or at least the training for those who will drive the carts. They are already used to dealing with wagons and traffic. Rural routes could be difficult though, some of them are bit more than the 30 mile round trip.

  100. This was an entertaining thread. The proposal might work in parts of Iowa and West Texas where they have already a lot of wind turbines installed and flat land. As a law maker, Carper should consider laws to increase the supply and decrease the cost of petroleum based fuel.

  101. The Leaf does best, miles per charge, with mild temperatures (no air or heater needed) cruising at 38mph.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf

    “Based on third-party test drives carried out in the US, reviewers have found that the range available from a single charge can vary up to 40% in real-world situations; reports vary from about 100 kilometres (62 mi) to almost 222 kilometres (138 mi) depending on driving style, load, traffic conditions, weather (i.e. wind, atmospheric density), and accessory use.[65][66] Nissan tested the Leaf under several scenarios to estimate real-world range figures, and obtained a worst case scenario of 76 kilometres (47 mi) and a best case scenario of 222 kilometres (138 mi). The following table summarizes the results under each scenario tested using EPA’s L4 test cycle and presents EPA rating as a reference:[67][68]”

    Web link has the details of the EPA L4 test cycle operating the Leaf under different real-world scenarios[67][68]

  102. “Ric Werme says:
    April 26, 2012 at 5:48 am
    atheok says:
    April 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I’ve mailed a small newsletter for a couple decades and from the USPS workers I deal with (and others I socialize with), they’re pretty much all looking forward to the first early retirement package they qualify for. Morale? They’ve heard of that.”

    The world is full of places where people have done the same job in the same way with oppressive supervisors meddling. Morale is what you make of it. People who are bitter and take their dissatisfaction out on others seem to never get promoted. Funny thing, those are also the same folks who know exactly how many days they have left till retirement. I knew a lot of truly remarkable people in the Postal Service who took each day as a new challenge.

    “OTOH, they say the pension problem is due to congressional meddling, I don’t know enough about it all to weigh in, and if I did, it wouldn’t be helpful. Life in a shrinking business that has defined benefit pension plans is stressful.”

    Uh, no. Yes, the Postal Service has contributed billions to the government based on “past, current and future expenses”. Reagon through Clinton touched the USPS hard for cash. Bush, jr. got a shock when he found out that the Postal Service would not be able to make those kind of payments with revenue declining. And forcing the USPS to raise rates so they could withdraw USPS money would give aaway the game.

    “I’ve been through chapter 11 with one company, and pretty much directly into chapter 7 at another. If it weren’t for the occasional Great Recession, 401ks and IRAs would be the better alternative for the semi-clueful employee.”

    All employees hired after 1986 and many employees hired before that date are under a complex retirement system. Prior to 1986, employees did not pay into Social Security or Medicare. AFter 1986 they do, so the new retirement system which all Federal employees are under includes figuring Social Security as part of government employees retiremment. One percent of the employees salary is withheld for the defined pension plan. When an employee qualifies for retirement, their years of contributions are added to work out their retirement salary. So thirty years of service and contributing 1% and the retiring employee will receive checks based on 30% of the average of their last three years salary. The government has also initiated a federal version of a 401k benefit plan and there is limited matching of funds deposited by the feds. All of this information is available online in excrucuating detail, so feel free to look it up.

    USPS probably should have grabbed onto email as it birthed and sought to enforce the same protections given to first class mail. Maybe it will still figure this part out.

    “They tried – they started out with a service where you could send Email to the USPS, they’d print it out near the destination and deliver it the next day. It was more like a next-day telegram than Email and was nowhere close to a sweet spot. Email works because you can exchange several over the course of a day.”

    No, that was still plain snail mail; just with a different, very expensive telegraph system in between. That was a first class mistake.

    “As for modern Email, given the amount of junk mail delivered here on paper, I’d hate to see what the USPS could do electronically. :-)”

    USPS does their job and for the most part, they do an excellent job. That junk mail is bought and paid for by advertisers. If a Postal Carrier is expected to walk, drive, hop to every mailbox every day; then every piece of paid mail delivered to that mailbox above the basic cost of that route is extra revenue. That offsets the costs of delivering charitable and government mail. Charitable mail is subsidized and every year, USPS adds up the volume that was delivered and how much the Federal government owes USPS. Every year the feds throw them a bone or two.

    “email as it birthed”? I was among the first people to send Email between dissimilar operating systems (Tops-10 and TENEX, both on PDP-10s) around 1972 back in ARPAnet days. That would have been a bit early for the USPS to get involved!”

    Really? And just how long was that email address good for? And how many places could you receive it? Yes, technically email started when businesses and schools and the feds initiated their own in-house email systems. Have you ever looked in the wire closets in old office buildings? It seems no one ever pulls out the old email/computer wires, they just cram in new ones.

    There was a point where email started to be a real and dependable method of sending personal and business communications, cheaply. It was a few years before Ally baby didn’t invent the internet when AOL and a host of other small competitors started selling dial up services, including bulletin boards and email. At that point, USPS had already spent years of trial and error in their own search for internal email systems whether DEC or Wang or IBM clonings. Yeah, IBM mainframes had various little commands and you could send a message to anyone else that logs into the system.

    You might’ve been one of the first folks to send emails between dissimilar op systems, but it wasn’t dependable; not without herculean efforts by the pre-geeks. And that dissimilar communicator, could you send email to your mother? Send a resume to a different school or employer? Nope!

    That was when USPS should’ve started laying the groundwork for giving your personal emails the full protection that email should have.

    The Pony Express was a private operation banking on beating the regular mail service by days-weeks. Like so many other big ideas, USPS (USPO in those days) contracted with the Pony Express and the government advanced it cash. Plus the Pony Express only lasted eighteen months before the telegraph service put it out of business. http://www.ponyexpress.org.

    Mail is still delivered via mule train in the Grand canyon. USPS will use whatever method it can to deliver the mail. Down in the Mississippi River delta, mail is still delivered by boat. When hurricane Andrew wiped out Homestead in Florida, most people seem to forget that Andrew went on to visit Louisiana and heavily damaged a lot of small towns. There was one Post Office that had lost a wall and half it’s roof. When asked hat it would take to get the office working again, the Postmaster replied that he needed someplace to keep the mail and stamps out of the weather. He said if we got him a desk he’d be open. We trucked him a desk that afternoon and he was open the next day.

  103. Very interesting post, atheok (April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm); you clearly know whereof you speak. Good story about the Postmaster in Louisiana.

    I visit our branch PO every day, and have always been impressed with the good humor and dedication of the people behind the counter (only one these days, often overworked), even despite the inanities of working for a gigantic organization with rules that are sometimes silly.

    /Mr Lynn

  104. atheok says:
    April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm
    [on "email as it birthed"]

    You might’ve been one of the first folks to send emails between dissimilar op systems, but it wasn’t dependable; not without herculean efforts by the pre-geeks. And that dissimilar communicator, could you send email to your mother? Send a resume to a different school or employer? Nope!

    It was reasonably dependable, after all, all us geeks (pre-geeks? no need to be insulting!) depended on it too. The key piece was the last minute addition of a couple of mail related commands (MAIL and MLFL) to the “new” FTP protocol, the current incarnation, ported to the Internet, is still recognizable, though mail stopped flowing through FTP a long time ago, but it was used for longer than I would have expected.

    Email to Mom? Nope, nor Dad, and he designed process control computers. Resume to different school or employer? Sure, a lot of people in the ARPAnet community quickly realized they wanted to stay within that community. I left CMU for DEC, but Harvard and CMU codeveloped their network code. Before I moved, Harvard’s main developer left for Xerox-PARC (also on the net), so the Harvard folk were thrilled when they heard I was moving to the area. That was 1974, apparently some of my code was still used at CMU in 1979, see http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc808.html for the state of ARPAnet Email in 1979.

    When Email was created in the 1970s it was quite immature, but we got it crawling (and indispensible) pretty quickly. Of course it took a while before I could send a resume to any employer, but we were talking about “email as it birthed.” That the ARPAnet was limited to 64 message passing nodes closely connected to up to four timesharing (typically) systems put some hard limits as to how many employers (and Moms) had access.

    That was when USPS should’ve started laying the groundwork for giving your personal emails the full protection that email should have.

    Probably, they could have seen mail on ARPAnet, bulletin boards, and UUCP. That and the emerging personal computer and Internet would have provided a lot of room to experiment.

  105. polistra says:
    April 26, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I don’t know why so many people assume the PO drives to every house. In all the places I’ve lived, they walk a radius of 6 city blocks around the parked car, then move the car. The car moves about twice an hour.

    I think ours is supposed to stop at every house, but I keep the snow off a path between my house and the neighbors so he combines ours. The Concord NH? Manchester SCF? organizations experimented with having some carriers use Segways, a fine New Hampshire product to see if the time savings would balance the cost, but nothing seems to have come from it.

  106. Anthony Watts says: April 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm
    I’m only drawing on my own experience with my own electric cars (I’ve had three now) and while I can maybe get 40 miles on a charge in point to point driving, it drops to a little more than half that in stop/go city traffic. Watching the ammeter when starting shows significant power surges, up to 150 amps, which is my max battery output in my current model.
    —————————————————-
    Anthony: 2 answers to your 2 questions. First, the motor current is high at starting because that’s easier, cheaper, and lighter than a multi-ratio gearbox. High current draw is not a problem, it’s just a design point. Compare it to starting an IC engine car in 4th gear. Full torque at zero RPM from an electric motor is an advantage.

    Second, internal combustion engines also get worse mileage or range in stop-and-go traffic. The difference is when you step on the brake, you don’t make gasoline out of exhaust emissions. (not trying to be sarcastic) So in theory, electric vehicles should be better at postal delivery than IC engine cars. But you’re right, the only way is to try 100 of them and compare.

  107. Dan in California says:
    April 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm
    “Anthony: 2 answers to your 2 questions. First, the motor current is high at starting because that’s easier, cheaper, and lighter than a multi-ratio gearbox. High current draw is not a problem, it’s just a design point. ”

    The important part of an EV is not the motor. It’s the battery. If you want your battery to live long, don’t discharge it, and don’t charge it too much.

    I know. That sounds like one shouldn’t use it. But that’s what they like best.

  108. DirkH says: April 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm
    The important part of an EV is not the motor. It’s the battery. If you want your battery to live long, don’t discharge it, and don’t charge it too much.
    ——————————————–
    Yup. Deep cycles hurt the total number of cycles. That’s why the battery in an IC engine car lasts a long time. Lots of cranking current, but shallow discharge and recharged almost immediately. Going below 20% SOC (state of charge) in an electric vehicle will really shorten the battery lifetime.

  109. It’s late & I had time only to skim the upstream comments, so advance apologies if any of this is redundant:

    Anthony, I also believe you are mistaken about gas vs. electric/city stop & go vs. highway cruisin':

    Joe Born says: April 26, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Anthony is correct about the high current draw at electric-vehicle start-up, but that merely means that the electric motor is applying high torque–as an internal-combustion engine would have to do if it could at low engine speed–and expending energy that a gasoline engine has to do, too, to get the car up to speed. There no doubt is a lot of efficiency lost in stop-and-go driving, but nothing I’ve heard lead me to believe that it’s worse for electric car than a gasoline one, and there’s every reason to believe it’s believe that it’s better, for the reasons previous responders have given.

    This agrees pretty much exactly with what an engineer friend told me when he bought his 1st-gen. Prius about 10 years ago. Having made several longish trips in it, I can confirm that it runs mostly in all-electric mode around town, and mostly ICU mode on the highway, with the occasional electric assist. The electric motor doesn’t have enough power for high-speed driving.This includes mountain driving on I-70 west of Denver.

    Of course it looks like the good Senator had an all-electric vehicle in mind, which is a slightly different can of worms. Without the continuous recharging of a hybrid, battery discharge rates could be an issue, but OTOH, batteries generally prefer start-stop discharge to long, continuous discharge – start-stop gives them a chance to recover. Most battery powered clocks nowadays use stepping motors (tick, tick, tick . . .) instead of the old continuous motion motors for just that reason, and the much longer battery lives are truly amazing (I mean really amazing – we have one that uses a single AA, which we replace about once every 3 three years). Also, car batteries would probably do most of their charging at night, during the cheaper off-peak hours. I’ve always thought this is a plus for electric vehicles – we’d be making more efficient use of our existing generating capacity, greatly reducing the need for more plants.

    Speaking of batteries, replacement would be a major cost – I beleive Toyota wants about $5,000.00 for a Prius replacement pack, although that will undoubtedly come down once production ramps up and after-market suppliers get in on the action. Also, battery replacement costs should be largely off-set by the much-reduced maintenance of electric motors – much simpler & less wear-prone than ICU’s. Of course you only get this benefit w/ all-electric vehicles.

    Lastly, has anyone mentioned the lunacy of running an electric vehicle fleet from massively subsidised wind-generated electricity? Which costs, what, 5 times as much as conventional fossil-fuel electricity? But what the hey, the P.O. doesn’t see this cost directly, same as us peons. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Ah, the beauty of Government Gone Wild – we all know where the money comes from, but no one really knows where it goes.

  110. TomB says:
    April 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Grant says:
    April 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    … How does such a man get elected to such a high office?

    Not even close to the worst I’ve heard. What about Hank Johnson from GA that worried that Guam would capsize if too many people moved to one side of the island?

    You just can’t make this stuff up.

    Hank Johnson is my representative. I agree, his statement was loony but (a) Johnson said later he was trying to make a joke and simply did a very poor job of it, and (b) he takes various medications for Hepatitis C which can impair functioning, and (c) before Johnson was elected my was represented by Cynthia McKinney (see here and here.). I view Johnson as an improvement.

    Those of you who don’t live in McKinney’s former district will still get the pleasure of seeing her as the Green Party candidate for president this year, where she will advocate eliminating both nuclear and carbon-based energy. Many of us who do live in the district dread the thought of her possible return. Please cut Rep. Johnson a little slack; think of the alternative:

    Energy dependence

    “Leave the oil in the soil.” is McKinney’s main philosophy on energy dependence, stating that this approach would push the economy to creating jobs and using environmental technology to use as energy.[16]
    [edit] ANWR

    McKinney has opposed Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, and in 2001 supported permanently preserving Alaska’s ANWR. [16][17]
    [edit] Alternative energy sources
    [edit] Ethanol as energy

    In her own words, McKinney states “I viewed Stockton’s corn fields now primed to supply the newly-constructed ethanol plant instead of satisfy human food needs.”[18] She, as well as other Greens, believe ethanol should not be the main focus of alternative energy because it will lessen the food supply.[19]
    [edit] Nuclear and carbon power

    McKinney has maintained the stance that the United States should become nuclear power and carbon power free. [17] She says that there are safer and more effective ways to get clean energy in America besides nuclear power, mainly because the waste cannot be disposed of properly. She called it a “carbon-intense way to boil water.” [20]

  111. PaddikJ says:
    April 27, 2012 at 12:46 am
    Speaking of batteries, replacement would be a major cost – I beleive Toyota wants about $5,000.00 for a Prius replacement pack, although that will undoubtedly come down once production ramps up and after-market suppliers get in on the action. Also, battery replacement costs should be largely off-set by the much-reduced maintenance of electric motors – much simpler & less wear-prone than ICU’s. Of course you only get this benefit w/ all-electric vehicles.
    ———————————-
    $3K or less to install a NiMH battery in a first or second generation Prius after the warranty period, but the prius is a hybrid that also has a real engine so the battery size is smaller and it’s not Li-Ion.

    The price for the Leaf’s battery pack replacement does not seem readily available on-line. I’ve seen a WSJ article that states that the cost just to produce the battery pack is $9K – $18K.

    In neither scenario does the cost of maintaining a conventional internal combustion engine “off-set by the much-reduced maintenance of electric motors.” Also a big time Lithium-Ion battery is not some kind of perfectly reliable divice as we can see by the problems with the A123 Lithium Polymer cells produced for the Fisker. A big lithium-ion battery uses fairly complicated and sensitive electronic controlling circuitry, which can fail as individual cells can fail.
    .

  112. The whole problem with an electric vehicle is battery charge density. But there are many factors involved in battery technology. The best so far has been the lithium-iron-phosphate version.

    Factors involved are:

    Batteries in terms of safety; specific energy, also known as capacity; specific power, or the ability to deliver high current on demand; performance, the ability to function at hot and cold temperatures; life span, which includes the number of cycles delivered as well as calendar life; and finally cost.

    From batteryuniversity.com:

    It is sobering to realize that in terms of output per weight, a battery generates only 1% the energy of fossil fuel. One kilogram (1.4 liter, 0.37 gallons) of gasoline produces roughly 12kWh, whereas a 1kg battery delivers about 120 Wh. We must keep in mind that the electric motor is better than 90% efficient while the IC engine comes in at only about 30%. In spite of this difference, the energy storage capability of a battery will need to double and quadruple before it can compete head-to-head with the IC engine.

    No one killed the electric car, it just never lived up to it’s potential. Perhaps a small ICE driven generator to a small bank of LI-Ps to supply power when required. And those large capacitors used for regenerative braking are quite expensive I understand.

    Cost presents a major drawback. There is no assurance that the battery’s target price of $250–400 per kWh, which BCG predicts, can be met. The mandated protection circuits for safety, battery managements for status, climate control for longevity and the 8–10-year warranty add to this challenge. The price of the battery alone amounts to the value of a vehicle with IC engine, essentially doubling the price of the EV.

    A battery will degrade faster under a quick charge then a slow charge. Maybe someone will invent that fusion powered car featured in Back to the Future. With the present administration it’s back to the past.

  113. Canada is holding up its end with:
    – former leader of the federal “Liberal party”, in pontificating about Quebec separation, was unaware that in Canada natural resources, education, and health care are under provincial authority. Hearing that, you won’t be surprised that the party lost badly in the last election.
    – Federal cabinet minister cancels hotel room in the fine hotel where the conference she was attending was at (had to pay cancellation fee), instead stays in a far more expensive hotel, and pays for a limo to take her to and from the conference. At taxpayer expense. Duh?

    Of course the real fools are the voters who elect them. (In the case of the candidates, they are selected by voters who choose to be party members (in Canada) or some funny process in US.) Empty promises and charisma get them elected, shoveling out money gets them re-elected. (In general the USPS is provides better service than CP, but that’s just saying they “aren’t as bad”.)

  114. As for bringing your mail to a postal vehicle parked on the corner, FYI Canada Post has been using neighbourhood mailbox assemblies for years in newly constructed areas – no door-to-door delivery.

    The postal service has been dying since their inconsistency in delivery timing motivated Fred Smith to offer assured delivery for a far higher price. His “Federal Express” company spawned an industry.
    (In Canada and Germany the government postal operations purchased air courier companies.) Then along came e-mail to make postal service even less used. Oh, and fax even before all of those. The writing has been on the wall for a loooong time.

    As usual in bureaucracies, there are outstanding people. One day I bopped into the USPS in Redmond, a town NE of Seattle WA. Looked dark inside. Then I realized the power was off.
    Postal employees kept serving customers, coming out from behind the counter to read addresses by the window wall behind the customer area.
    Customers were bringing flashlights in, I heard one say “I’ll pick it up late this afternoon, if I don’t keep it for next time the power goes out.”
    Good people get things done – note customers were rewarding their efforts by helping.
    (Bad owners try to take advantage of those people, then whine about having difficulty getting employees.)

  115. Electric vs petroleum fuel for postal trucks is just a big distraction. Mail will be obsolete soon, and various other companies are just as effective (often better) at delivering parcels, so the real “solution” is to let the postal service fade into history. If it is dismantled proactively instead of waiting for a shameful debacle, the history books might even be nice.

  116. As for suitability of electric cars for stop-and-start driving, if they are not then they are not very useful, as commuting is typically stop-start and they don’t have the range for longer distances.

    Too much pontificating by people without full perspective. For example, picking on “Robert E. Phelan”, an electric train is a different beast than an electric car/microvan. For a century or more they’ve been used where torque is needed, as in mountains, IIRC the GN built a generating station near Stevens Pass to power electric locomotives (no longer used).

    You have to consider particular advantages of each method of doing something. For example, electric trains are good for tunnels, though the GN has long used forced ventilation through the 6-mile tunnel at Stevens Pass WA. Someone mentioned quietness of delivery vehicles, though I expect you have to watch whine. Someone mentioned warmup, without which usage is hard on IC engines.

    Vehicles for postal walking routes sit a lot in my neighbourhood, as door-to-door mail deliverers walk long loops, so range on a recharge is not a problem. The vehicle gets them from the sorting location to the neighbourhood, gives them a ready storage location for more mail, and re-positions them in areas that are chopped-up or have long blocks (both the case in my neighbourhood). Alternatives include lock boxes where bags are stashed by another postal vehicle with the deliverer taking the bus to the neighbourhood. Apparently having a dedicated vehicle works better with today’s labour rates (the bus takes a long time). But I see variations, depending on circumstance (I see taxis dropping fill-in deliverers off, recently saw what appeared to be someone in a private car putting a bag in a lock box).

Comments are closed.