U.S. Post Office Looking to Stop Mail-to-Your-Door Delivery

The U.S. Post Office is loosing money every day it operates, but one cost-cutting measure being proposed is to end having mail delivered to American homes.

The Post Office is proposing “centralized delivery,” instead of to-your-door delivery. Here homeowners would go pick up their mail at a bank of P.O. boxes, or “cluster boxes,” instead of having a mailman deliver mail to each individual home.

These cluster boxes where mail for a housing development could be delivered to a central location is similar to the way apartments receive mail with boxes located in the building lobby.

This system of mail delivery is already growing at industrial parks and the Post Office is urging all new industrial parks to adopt cluster box delivery at the outset.

The Postal Service is losing upwards to $25 million a day as more communication goes to the Internet and it is estimated by 2016 that the Post Office will have a debt of over $92 billion unless something is done now to prevent that. The service lost $16 billion in 2012 and exhausted its $15 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.

In this electronic age, there is also the matter of the falling popularity of using “snail mail.” First-class mail makes up half of the Postal Service’s revenue but over the last ten years the USPS has seen a decline in first-class mail from 104 billion pieces to 74 billion and estimates are that the volume will shrink by another 34 billion by 2020.

To address this, Representative Darrell Issa (R, CA) has introduced a bill that also features the cluster box idea as a cost-saving measure. In the bill Issa proposes eliminating at home delivery for most homes.

“A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America’s changing use of mail,” Issa said.

Along with Congressman Dennis Ross (R, FL), Issa has introduced H.R. 2309, a bill that the Wall Street Journal said gives the U.S. Postal Service a “fighting chance to survive for five to 10 years without being a $12 billion annual drain on the Treasury.”

“[Issa’s] bill would appoint a federal control board to oversee postal finances and would have the power to cut costs, restructure the agency and renegotiate no-layoff contracts,” The Journal wrote early in May. “This is modeled after the Washington, D.C. control board of several years ago that helped steer the district government back to solvency.”

Of course, not everyone loves the idea of ending to-your-door delivery. The mail carriers union is against the idea.

“It’s madness,” said Jim Sauber, chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers. “The idea that somebody is going to walk down to their mailbox in Buffalo, New York, in the winter snow to get their mail is just crazy.”

Further, some city managers and council members warn that cluster boxes will need new ordinances and laws governing construction, safety, and access issues and such laws will have to be written all across the country to govern these new mail delivery stations.

Whatever reforms are implemented, everyone agrees that something has to be done. The Post Office cannot continue to be a billion-dollar money-losing venture.

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