by Robin Gee
Santa will stick to the sleigh, but some Fort Thomas residents will see a new method of holiday delivery in their neighborhoods this season.
Package-laden golf carts will be tooling around some neighborhoods as part of a United Parcel Service (UPS) program designed to help handle increased volume during the peak usage time.
UPS rolled out the program in some states in 2015 as an effort to handle the large volume of holiday delivery traffic created with the rise of online buying or what they refer to as eCommerce.
In Kentucky, UPS ran a successful two-year pilot program that started with 61 carts in 2015 and went to 111 in 2016 in select residential areas that had speed limits under 35mph.
This year, the state legislature cleared the way for the full program by passing an amendment to the KRS statute that allowed the company to use the golf carts for commercial purposes.
Before that legislation, UPS would have had to comply with each individual community’s standards if the community had adopted ordinances regulating golf carts and similar vehicles, City Administrator Ron Dill told council at the September 5 meeting.
He added that the legislation does still allow local authorities say over certain things including when delivery can take place, such as sunrise to sunset or during specific hours. Golf carts for private use will still be prohibited.
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"Safety is always first at UPS, and we believe our golf carts are just as safe as our package cars. Every driver goes through OSHA’s Powered Industrial Truck Operator training and rigorous golf cart driver training," said O’Connor.
“The carts meet DOT slow-moving vehicle standards and have environmental benefits as well: reduced noise, lower fuel consumption, and fewer emissions than a standard delivery vehicle," he added.
The season runs about a month in November and December. UPS will work with local authorities to identify places in selected communities where the golf carts and packages can be stored securely.
How it works
Each day, a UPS delivery truck will deliver packages designated for the chosen neighborhoods to the golf cart location. Then packages for that location will be delivered via cart.
O’Connor could not identify which Fort Thomas neighborhoods will see golf carts, but information should be made available as program plans develop.
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The company is starting to use eBikes, three-wheeled bikes outfitted with electric motors, in urban areas. Right now they are piloting the program in Brussels, Belgium, and Portland, Oregon.
UPS delivers more than 19 million packages each day around the world. In 2016, the company delivered almost 5 billion packages globally.
PHOTO: Marcin Wichary