UPS is testing package delivery drones on trucks so a single driver can make multiple deliveries at once, but how can it make short-range deliveries now, without buying more trucks? A new law in Kentucky allows for package deliveries by golf cart on public roads. Yes, golf carts.
In theory, UPS can begin using its special golf carts to make deliveries starting today, the Wall Street Journal reports. However, the vehicles and the part-time, lower-paid drivers who drive them will mostly be deployed during holiday shopping season to help UPS keep up with shipping demand.
The company’s drivers aren’t very happy about the new vehicles, though. Golf carts are included in the UPS drivers’ union contracts. Until now, deliveries using them have been limited to places like retirement communities in Florida where people get around primarily using similar carts, and the paths don’t accommodate cars.
However, union representatives point out that even if the carts are retrofitted with seat belts and turn signals, and have decals marking them as “slow-moving vehicles,” letting drivers on public roads with regular passenger vehicles and trucks is unsafe.
The carts have flat beds for packages or haul cart-sized package trailers, and travel at about 15 miles per hour. Each charge runs a cart for up to 40 miles. They would only operate in areas where the posted speed limit is under 35 miles per hour. The part-time cart drivers would make a few dollars less per hour than a beginning driver of UPS delivery trucks.
“They’re just looking to pay the drivers less at the expense of the safety,” a Kentucky UPS driver and member of the Teamsters union told the WSJ.
A UPS spokesman countered that the company would not put its employees in danger.
“The safety of our [workers] always comes first and we will not operate in conditions that are determined to be unsafe,” he told the newspaper.
UPS, which has its “Worldport” sorting facility in Kentucky and is a major employer, lobbied the state government to make cart deliveries legal. Its goal is more “flexibility” during the busy holiday season.