The Days of Door-to-Door Mail Delivery Could Be Numbered

Illustration for article titled The Days of Door-to-Door Mail Delivery Could Be Numbered

Every day, millions of people enjoy the simple luxury of a blue and grey-clad letter carrier showing up at their house and dropping the day's mail on their doorstep. But if some Republican lawmakers get their way, this luxury may be short-lived.

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, is currently championing a plan that would require all Americans to move their mailbox from the doorstep to a community-wide cluster of mailboxes in a central location. The savings for the flat-broke Postal Service would be significant. Whereas doorstep delivery costs $353 per stop, delivering to cluster boxes costs just $160. All things told, this so-called "centralized delivery" system would save $4.5 billion a year, significantly more than the $3 billion ending Saturday deliveries would have saved.

Sounds like a foolproof plan, huh? A vocal group naysayers certainly don't think so. Much like ending Saturday delivery would've disenfranchised certain postal customers, this idea to end door-to-door delivery bears negative consequences aplenty. Critics say that adding a commute to the mailbox creates an unneeded challenge for the elderly and the disabled. They also say it will inconvenience everyone on the route. The backlash was enough to defeat a similar proposal last year, so it's not to be ignored now.


However, the plan does work. This exact setup has been in place for businesses in industrial parks and larger office buildings for a while now, and local postmasters are already pushing the approach onto some fast-growing communities. And frankly, it has to work, because there aren't really any reasonable alternatives. We could return to the plan of cutting delivery on Saturdays, if not several other days of the week. Or the Postal Service could continue to pursue its wearable electronics business, though that doesn't seem like a big moneymaker. Or you might just have to walk ten steps instead of two to get your mail everyday.

Who knows? It might even help America fight its ballooning obesity problem. [CNN Money]

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but my vague recollection was that one of the biggest reason why the USPS is in such a financial bind was that in 2006 Congress passed the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act," which required the post office to make payments meant to fund health benefits for future Postal Service retirees. The law requires that the Postal Service pay about $5 billion a year toward future health benefits for 10 years, until 2017. Instead of creating these "solutions," Congress could repealed that law or at least lessen the impact of that $5 billion it would take a lot of that financial pressure off.