Just wondering: USPS delivery vs rates

The US Postal Service offers various shipping options: Next Day, Priority (within 3 days), Regular, and Book Rate just to name a few. Of course, we all know that it costs more the faster you want it to get it there.

My question is regarding the actual logistics… let’s just take the example of a Priority vs. Regular mail item.

You’ve got a roomfull of Priority and Regular items. The Priority go first. Why can’t the Regular go along? I mean, I understand that Priority gets sent first before Regular, but you’re gonna hafta send the Regualar mail along eventualy. It’s not like you fill the trucks with the Priority mail and the regular mail gets to go if there’s room.

Are there special “Priority” runs that go more frequently than “Regular Mail” runs? Is there anyone that works for the USPS that can enlighten me as to how mail priority is handled behind the scenes?


It appears to me that my OP wasn’t to clear.

What I’m trying to get at is why it takes longer to ship something… say the Book Rate. It’s not like the package just sits in a storage area, constantly passed over for the faster shipping items, because eventually the Book Rate item has to be shipped.

So obviously, the difference between shipping speeds exists in the transportation system itself.

If someone could spell out how this works in detail, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.


There’s only so much room in the postal trucks, so the Express and Priority items get, well, priority and any regular and bookrate items have to wait for one that has room after all the Priority items are loaded. So if there are a lot of Express and Priority packages, the bookrate packages may wait several days before there’s room in a truck, but if there are only a few Priority packages, the bookrate packages may not have to wait at all.

Dad used to work for the PO, but that was a long time ago, so this answer may be out of date or entirely wrong. But until someone with up-to-date info posts, I’ll give it a shot.

Despite your disbelief, I think you’ve described it correctly when you say that the low-priority stuff sits and waits around until there’s time to sort it, and capacity to ship it. The high-priority stuff gets dealt with first, and the other stuff just waits. If you get lucky, your low-priority parcel will move out right away; if you don’t, it will get bumped until tomorrow. And maybe the next day. And the next day…

Except maybe for next-day mail, and overseas mail, I think it all goes over the same transportation system.

That’s whythey call it what they do:

pri•or•i•ty \pri-"or-e-te, -"ar-\ noun pl pri•or•i•ties (14c)
1 a (1) : the quality or state of being prior
(2) : precedence in date or position of publication — used of taxa
b (1) : superiority in rank, position, or privilege
(2) : legal precedence in exercise of rights over the same subject matter
2 : a preferential rating; esp : one that allocates rights to goods and services usu. in limited supply <that project has top priority>
3 : something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives

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