On May 21, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved a proposal to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery from the United States Postal Service. The proposed bill would affect millions of Americans who receive their mail at their doors, forcing them to pick up mail in a curbside or communal mailbox instead.
Under the proposed law, 15 million addresses would be converted over the next decade, averaging out to 1.5 million per year. However, people with disabilities who have trouble leaving their homes could receive a waiver, and people who would still prefer to receive their mail at their doors could opt in but would have to pay extra.
Along with Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., who called the move a “lousy idea,” other House critics have stated that the proposed change won’t work in some environments. For example, in most urban areas, there is no room to put the so-called “cluster boxes” on city streets.
While the measure could reduce spending by an estimated $2 billion annually, officials agree that greater reform is needed in order to solve the Postal Service’s financial problems. In the first three months of 2014 alone, the Postal Service reported losses of $1.9 billion despite continued efforts to cut costs.
However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stated that despite the bill’s problems, it “provides an interim opportunity to achieve some significant cost savings.” According to Issa, current door-to-door delivery costs of $380 annually per address could be reduced to $240 for curbside mail service or $170 for centralized communal mailboxes.
Issa also remarked that in addition to the cost savings, residents would also see increased security in their deliveries. The communal boxes would offer safe, locked locations for mail and packages, thus eliminating the risk of theft or bad weather for packages left on porches.
Given long waits for deliveries and the increasing financial issues faced by the Postal Service, many Americans are looking to other sources for sending and receiving mail and packages. Even large corporations, such as Amazon, are looking for alternative delivery methods to satisfy consumers. Amazon is currently seeking software engineers for their drone delivery service to make the project a reality for millions of customers.
When it comes to local deliveries, however, many individuals and businesses need to send and receive packages, letters, and documents quickly. Local delivery services from couriers are increasing in popularity, and this alternative may fill the gap left by the post office.
“A local courier service can deliver important packages faster, and with a level of personalized service that the local post office cannot even begin to offer its customers.” says a Senior Manager at LA Courier Service in Los Angeles, California.
Despite the many competitors for national, international, and even local delivery services, the ongoing battle between postal officials and lawmakers has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon. In recent years, the Postal Service has asked repeatedly for more control over personnel and benefits costs and for the ability to set their own prices in order to operate more like a private delivery service.