WASHINGTON – Americans for generations have come to depend on door-to-door mail delivery. But with the U.S. Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, that service could be virtually finished by 2022 under a proposal being considered in Congress.
Curbside delivery, which includes deliveries to mailboxes at the end of driveways, and cluster box delivery would replace letter carriers walking right up to homes’ front doors — a scene deeply embedded in movies and other popular culture.
A House committee on Wednesday approved the plan, which is part of broader legislation designed to cut costs at the agency by up to $4.5 billion a year. The Postal Service had a $16 billion loss last year.
The agency, long ago one of the government’s most powerful for the many jobs it had at its disposal across the country, has suffered from competition by private delivery companies.
The volume of mail handled by the Postal Service has decreased steadily as the popularity of email, 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 agency has been pursuing a major restructuring. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by about $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000, or 28 per cent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations.
Mail delivery can be a sensitive subject among some Americans. The service earlier this year backed off its plan to end Saturday mail delivery, something that it has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully over the past several years to persuade Congress to approve.
About one in three mail customers has to-their-door delivery, said Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Postal Service, an independent agency, gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.
About $11.1 billion of last year’s losses were due to payments for future retiree health costs.
Should Canada end door-to-door mail delivery as well?
Global News asked what Canadians think about door-to-door mail delivery and if the service should be abolished in our country as well. Here are some results from Facebook and Twitter:
Jenifer Kosman said, “I home school and I think they should keep the mail the way it is! Not to mention the fact that people will be out of jobs. That’s just not fair at all. It’s more convenient for us to have it delivered and for people to have jobs. I hope they don’t!”
Catherine B. said, “I have to go to the post office to get my mail anyway.”
Tyla MacDonald said, “I don’t get door to door so the post men here are already out of that work. I would love the superboxes for pick up. In cities that do get door-to-door service it would kill jobs, which is not good for our economy.”
Tammy Pope said, “Superboxes are way cheaper and more secure to deliver to. I haven’t had the mail sent to my door in over 20 years. I think it’s far more efficient for it to be changed.”
Nicole Lortie said, “There is nothing more exciting than coming home, and having a letter or a card in your mailbox. I never seem to have time to go pick up my mail or parcels. I’m all for door to door delivery.”
Powder Brush said, “I am a senior and can’t get out that easy, need home delivery with my mail. just make sure you deliver it to my house, and not all the time to neighbour’s three to four doors away who have to do the postman’s job then.”
With files from the Associated Press