The nation’s impressive new interstate highway system and the lower cost of moving mail by horsepower did convince postal officials to load more and more mail onto trucks. But trucks weren’t the most intriguing next step in moving mails along America’s highways. That would be a new version of the Railway Post Office itself, RMS service in the guise of a highway-traveling bus.
The first Highway Post Office (HPO) bus had made its inaugural trip between Washington, DC and Harrisonburg, Virginia on February 10, 1941. It was built by the White Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio.(1) Although this new service helped fill the void of declining railroad traffic, expansion of the Highway Post Office was postponed until after the Second World War and did not really see growth until the 1950s and 1960s. Railroad traffic experienced a serious decline in those decades. Passengers preferred the convenience of highways and the speed of planes to slow, chugging trains. Without all those travelers, railroads were forced to cut back on service. Fewer passenger trains meant fewer mail trains. Railway Mail Service was faced with the challenge of getting mail to post offices along these rail lines, but without being able to use the trains to do it.