Why is US postage the same for 2 miles and 2000 miles?


Why is US postage the same for 2 miles and 2000 miles?

In: 12

Your average letter costs basically nothing to move, so they just divide the cost of the daily trips by the number of stamps sold and that’s the cost of postage.

The transit distance isn’t the main cost, it’s the overall infrastructure of the postal system.

Whether or not a single piece of mail gets sent from Orlando to Miami or from Orlando to Seattle, the mail truck from Orlando to Miami and the plane from Orlando to Seattle are still going to make that trip every day. As are thousands of other vehicles going on routes. That extra mail won’t add a fraction of a cent to the operating cost of either vehicle, but in the aggregate they do cause wear on the equipment, and the equipment requires maintenance, and people to operate it, and other expenses that generally get incurred in running the postage system.

Where you start to see higher rates are in places where that isn’t the case – either a courier service that charters a vehicle to deliver something, large deliveries that require special trips, things like that – that is where you get more expensive delivery fees.

To keep it simple. The post office could charge more for a letter sent beyond a certain distance (and they do for bulk mailings), but they’d probably spend more money chasing down small amounts of postage due than they’d gain. Imagine a kid in California sending their grandma in Pennsylvania a letter, but the kid is short on postage by $0.08 and the letter gets returned. Nobody wins.

I’ll also add this – The US postal system is an odd mix of Private / Public logic, for which I’d compare it to something like a mass transit or subway system.

For example, if you look at the New York City subway system, the question was asked early on should a fare be calculated based on distance traveled or a flat rate? The decision was to institute a flat rate because a distance based system reduced the mobility of the poorer population. The deliberate intent was to create a flat fare so that the poorest citizens could be displaced from the city center (in this example, the Lower East Side) and move out to the distant reaches of the city (rural Queens and Brooklyn at the time) where land was cheaper, if it were distance based those citizens wouldn’t be able to afford the fare. This freed up massive amounts of real estate in lower Manhattan that could now be developed.

Similarly a distance based mail system would have unequal effects on haves and have nots which might be OK in a completely privatized organization, but not for our semi-Public USPS.

Because they aren’t taking it directly from your house to the destination. They’re taking it from your house, to the local post office where it gets sorted, from there it’s determined if it gets sent out to the destination, or goes to a distribution center so it will go to the post office that does deliver to it’s destination.

So, postage isn’t really paying for moving the letter that distance, it’s for maintaining flow of mail thar will happen whether or not you send that specific letter, and if anything it would take more effort and money to confirm that the correct postage was provided for 2 miles VS 2000 miles rather than just charge the same flat rate for the same letter going to each destination.