Postal service sees 25% increase in package deliveries during pandemic

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Christmas in May.

That’s how the plant manager at the U.S. Postal Service’s Providence Process and Distribution Center (P&DC) described the volume of packages going through the facility.

“We’ve seen everything,” Lawrence Crosby Jr. said. “We’ve seen gym equipment, we’ve seen anything from mufflers, we’ve just seen about everything come through the mail stream.”

The P&DC serves the Greater Rhode Island area up until North Attleboro, Mass., and all the way to Cape Cod, according to Crosby.

“What’s coming to your mailbox is changing all around,” he added. “It’s more of a package platform as everybody’s home.”

Crosby said the center is seeing a roughly 25% increase in the amount of packages compared to this time last year.

“We’re running about 30,000 more pieces in this facility than we normally would on a given day,” he said.

He explained the facility is extending machine run-times from 16 hours to 20, with a four-hour window in between for preventative maintenance.

“What we do is we maximized our machine capacity and obviously we’re running a little bit later,” Crosby said. 

They’ve also had to increase their delivery hours, including on Sundays.

“You’ll see letter carriers out either early in the morning and in the afternoon delivering packages,” Crosby said.

He went on to explain the USPS still guarantees Priority Mail Express — its overnight service –but increased the service standard from three to four days.

Despite the uptick, the Postmaster General has warned the agency could run out of money by September if Congress doesn’t send help soon.

“We’ve seen a decline on the letter volume and the magazine volume,” Crosby said.

The USPS announced it’s hiring locally earlier this month.

“We have hired new employees, keeping up with the staffing levels and just adapting to the schedule changes, the COVID-19 issues that everybody’s been dealing with,” Crosby said.

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The P&DC is open and operating while abiding by public safety regulations.

“We’re protecting our employees and customers as well,” Crosby said. “We do have guidelines on our doors and we do have markings outside to keep everyone far apart and safe.”

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