NEW YORK (CNN) - Things have gone from bad to worse for the cash-strapped postal service.
The USPS says it can't afford to buy the vans and trucks they use to deliver the mail.
Instead, the postal service wants to lease; something that the 200-year-old agency has never done.
It's soliciting federal contract bids and has taken out ads that say it, “Doesn't have sufficient capital funds to purchase new equipment."
We've all seen the vehicles in our neighborhoods; the vans with the steering wheel on the right. However, many of them are old, and fixing them is expensive.
Buying new vehicles is even more expensive. They have to be custom-made, and the postal service needs a lot of them.
Last year, the USPS lost 16-billion dollars, and exhausted a 15-billion line of credit from the treasury.
Even with that credit, the USPS still can't pay all its bills. It missed two big payments to the government last year.
Fewer people are mailing things, but the bigger issue is that congress mandates that the post office pays 5-billion dollars a year for retiree health care benefits.
So leasing makes sense because the U.S. postal service has one of the biggest fleets in the world; more than 200-thousand cars, trucks and vans.