No more mail at your door? Postal Service delivery changes considered

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WASHINGTON — Americans for generations have come to depend on door-to-door mail delivery.

But with the Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, the delivery service could be virtually phased out by 2022 under a proposal a House panel was considering Wednesday. Curbside delivery, which includes deliveries to mailboxes at the end of driveways, and cluster box delivery would replace front-door boxes.

The proposal is part of legislation by Rep. Darr­ell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Over­sight and Government Reform Comm­­ittee, designed to cut costs at the cash-strapped agency by up to $4.5 billion a year. The Postal Service had a $16 billion loss last year.

The agency has been moving toward curbside and cluster box delivery in new residential developments since the 1970s. The Postal Service in April began deciding whether to provide such delivery for people moving into newly built homes rather than letting the developers decide.

“A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America’s changing use of mail,” Issa said. “Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service.”

About one in three mail customers has door-to-door delivery, Issa said. The shift would include safe and secure cluster box delivery areas, he said, especially for elderly customers who receive Social Security checks and prescriptions through the mail.

About 30 million residential addresses receive delivery to boxes at the door or a mail slot. Another 87 million residential addresses receive curbside or cluster box delivery.

The cost differences are clear. Curbside delivery costs average $224 per year for each address, while cluster box delivery averages $160. Door-to-door delivery costs the agency about $350 per year, on average.

Sue Brennan, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said, “While converting delivery away from the door to curb or centralized delivery would allow the Postal Service to deliver mail to more addresses in less time, doing so is not included in our five-year plan.”

Brennan said the agency’s five-year plan does call for shifting 20 percent of business address deliveries from door-to-door to curbside and cluster box delivery through 2016.

Rep. Steve Lynch, D-Mass., said the plan to move some 30 million residential addresses from to-the-door to curbside and cluster box service would be difficult in dense urban areas such as his hometown of South Boston.
“You’d have to knock houses down in my neighborhood to build cluster boxes,” he said.
It might work in places like Manhattan with big apartment buildings, he said.

“Look, there’s no availability for cluster boxes in many communities around the country,” Lynch said.

Issa’s plan allows for people with physical hardships to get waivers allowing them to keep door delivery. There’s also a provision giving people the option to keep door delivery by paying a special fee.

Issa’s bill also allows the Postal Service to take into account factors such as poverty rates and population density in deciding which areas would be allowed to keep door delivery.

The financially beleaguered Postal Service, an independent agency, gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but is subject to congressional control.

The Postal Service is pursuing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by about $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations.

The service’s losses are largely due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement that it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. About $11.1 billion of last year’s losses were due to payments for future retiree health costs.

The volume of mail handled by the Postal Service has decreased steadily as the popularity of e-mail, Facebook and other electronic services has grown. Total mail volume handled by the agency fell to 160 billion pieces last year from its all-time high, 213.1 billion in 2006. Revenue fell to $65.2 billion last budget year, from a high of $74.9 billion in 2008.

The Postal Service is considering several options to fix its finances, including negotiations with unions to reduce labor costs and another possible increase in prices.

The service earlier this year backpedaled on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery after running into opposition in Congress. It has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully over the past several years to persuade Congress to approve ending Saturday mail delivery and to free the service from the advance health payments.

The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of aggressive cost cutting instead. The House didn’t pass a bill.

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Darby
29613
Points
Darby 07/25/13 - 12:10 am
4
0
Fine, that's nine years from now....

By that time, snail mail will have died a natural death anyway the the problem will have solved itself.

Riverman1
94500
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 03:29 am
4
0
Pretty soon all mail will be

Pretty soon all mail will be instantly delivered to your Dick Tracy Two Way Wrist radio. Or, wait, has that already happened with smart phones?

gaptomom
143
Points
gaptomom 07/25/13 - 06:21 am
6
0
Unfair pricing

If the post office would charge businesses and the generators of all the junk mail we all find in our boxes the same, or a more fair price at least, as they do individuals that would certainly help to make up for a shortfall from people who are using on-line banking to save whatever the current postage rate is for doing their monthly bill paying. While I still believe a hand written letter (but since cursive writing is not being promoted in school I guess that would be a hand printed letter and another story altogether) is more personal, I like the speed with which I can communicate with friends in other parts of the country via email or phone. The current younger generation won't know what to think when they find that packet of letters kept for years by their parents since all they know is IM or Email. I do feel for the many elderly folks who have been in their homes for decades with mailboxes attached to the house who are going to need to made adjustments.

seenitB4
98887
Points
seenitB4 07/25/13 - 06:27 am
2
2
Not so fast guys

I can see cluster boxes at some apt complexes...but not in the country & not for elderly....sub div still need mailboxes.....some think that all have gone to puters for everything...well they have not.

Not yet & not in my lifetime.....:)

soapy_725
44202
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 06:29 am
0
0
USPS deficit is result of Washington stealing all of their money
Unpublished

USPS deficit is result of Washington stealing all of their money

soapy_725
44202
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 06:30 am
0
0
Washington forced 75 years of pension reserve kills USPS.
Unpublished

Washington forced 75 years of pension reserve kills USPS.

soapy_725
44202
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 06:30 am
0
0
USPS is the only government agency that makes money.
Unpublished

USPS is the only government agency that makes money.

soapy_725
44202
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 06:31 am
0
0
Washington makes USPS the "villain". Steals their revenue.
Unpublished

Washington makes USPS the "villain". Steals their revenue.

Riverman1
94500
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 06:42 am
2
0
In ten years they will be

In ten years they will be beaming hard copy mail through your TV or something. Probably people, too.

dashiel
176
Points
dashiel 07/25/13 - 07:09 am
3
0
Zombie Conga Line

It will give us another reason to stand up and waddle beyond our refrigerators.

Darby
29613
Points
Darby 07/25/13 - 09:58 am
2
0
"Pretty soon all mail will be instantly delivered

to your Dick Tracy Two Way Wrist radio."

.
Just so I don't get any from Prune Face. That guy creeped me out.

Darby
29613
Points
Darby 07/25/13 - 10:00 am
3
0
"In ten years they will be beaming hard

copy mail through your TV or something."

.
They've been doing that for decades. It's called FAX.

my.voice
5185
Points
my.voice 07/25/13 - 11:01 am
5
0
Here is what I sent my

Here is what I sent my elected representatives in November 2012:

In response to the "story" I have linked at the end of this correspondence, I have some very real and likely effective ideas to halt the hemorrhaging in the US Postal Service. I find it unacceptable that measures cannot be implemented rather than talking about the money being lost each year. The following are my simple ideas:

1 - Stop giving away (and making so many) Priority Mail Supplies. With the exception of FLAT RATE boxes, PM supplies aren't required to use PM and for goodness sake they shouldn't be free.

2 - Stop Saturday Mail Delivery: Gone are the days of needing 6 day a week delivery. It will be different, but the mail will still get delivered.

3 - Stop issuing new stamps and paying artists to design new ones. Millions are wasted in printing something nobody really even cares about. 99.9% of all postage stamps and the envelopes end up in the landfill. Print a normal, normally attractive stamp and leave it at that. Of course it needs to be copy-proof, but the stamps we are producing are costing too much to implement them.

4 - Use technology to sell postage. You can currently do your PACKAGE mailing from home, but what about first class stamped mail? You can pay third parties a lot of money to do this but for the homeowner its not feasible. Use the Stamps.Com model and make one available for the home user. A reasonable user fee would generate income and probably increase the use of the mail system.

5 - Cut the fat. Eliminate the overhead in personnel, particularly executive positions. Hire known successful executives from UPS, FEDEX, etc to help further streamline not only staff organization, but delivery as well. Optimize the delivery method!

I think this covers my general thoughts. I hope these are of some help and that they will be considered in upcoming legislation and or decision making.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/49992517

corgimom
38840
Points
corgimom 07/25/13 - 02:29 pm
2
0
I wouldn't have a problem

I wouldn't have a problem with cluster boxes, I've had them before.

LeConteSkier
567
Points
LeConteSkier 07/31/13 - 12:10 am
0
0
Whats wrong with ONLY

Whats wrong with ONLY DELIVERING 2 or 3 times a week? Twice a week would cut the budget to a 4th and still be adequate considering URGENT mail is either emailed or faxed. These are the same geniuses that want to take care of our health. Of course the Government doesn't know how to find its way out of a wet paper bag must less make a business profitable.

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