Lawsuit could delay replacement for aging postal fleet

PORTLAND, Maine — Postal workers thrilled at the prospect of making deliveries in modern, comfortable and environmentally friendly vehicles are soldiering on in their aging, spartan trucks.

The primary fleet of vehicles — dating to 1987 — was due to be replaced under a new contract but the winning bid for the new trucks is being challenged. That means the delivery of new trucks set for 2023 could be delayed.

“The longer this drags on, the more lives are at risk,” said John Graham, a postal carrier who operates one of the old vehicles in Portland, Maine.

Most workers don’t care which model they get. They just want something that’s safe.

More than 150 of the current vehicles have caught fire. They lack adequate heating and cooling, they deliver poor fuel economy and they’re becoming difficult to maintain.

The Grumman Long Life Vehicle delivered on its name. They went into service from 1987 to 1994 with a promise of a 24-year service life. The oldest of them have survived about 34 years of grueling use on the daily mail routes from snowy Maine to sunny California.

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If it were a privately owned vehicle at 25 years it would be considered a classic vehicle or an antique vehicle. These vehicles, in the condition that they are in now are very dangerous and a death trap.