In 2001 a business alliance was formed with Fed Ex Express which allowed USPS to improve its services without adding additional costs.
The business remains as a standalone branch of the US Government and is self financing; competing for trade in the communication, distribution, delivery, advertising and retail markets.
USPS uses Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMb) to label the items it carries with a unique identity in the form of a fluorescent pattern on the back and a black version on the front.
The Pony Express started in 1860, cutting days off delivery times in some areas, but lasted only 18 months before it superseded by the transcontinental telegraph line.
Rural Free Delivery in 1896 and then Parcel Post in 1913 enabled the new concept of mail order shopping to take off, used by as much as 25 percent of the population in its early days.
Airmail began in 1918, originally using army planes and personnel, but this was taken over in 1920, and formed the basis for the US air industry today.
The number of items being sent grew rapidly from the 1930s to the 60s and a search for more efficient systems lead to the introduction of the Zone Improvement Plan, commonly known as ZIP codes.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) was born out of a principle that every citizen has a right to a low cost and reliable delivery service.
The system now delivers 213 billion items to 156 million addresses annually.
USPS dates back to 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed as Postmaster General and the service provided was immediately recognised as vital to the development of a vast, newly emerging nation.
Since its early beginnings the business has been constantly adopting new technologies and methods of transportation to help it live up to the motto, ‘Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’ The early introduction of free delivery for newspapers ensured that literacy rates were the highest in the World for many years and loss making deliveries to the remotest communities ensured that knowledge was passed quickly and efficiently enabling the country to develop very rapidly.
The collection and delivery service follows a standard spoke and hub format to connect sorting depots in ever increasing sizes.
The hubs are divided into; Network Distribution Centres, Auxiliary Sort facilities, Sectional Centre Facilities and Destination Delivery Units.
Distances of under 200 miles are generally covered by trucks and vans, while anything further away is transported by air.