News Column

Is Door-to-Door Mail Delivery Ending?

July 25, 2013

Door-to-door service and Saturday mail delivery, long hallmarks of the U.S. Postal Service, are a step closer to being phased out.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would end front-door delivery to 37 million residences and businesses and Saturday mail service to over 150million homes and businesses.

Ending door-to-door delivery -- which would force millions to get mail at curbside boxes or neighborhood cluster boxes by 2022 -- would save up to $4.5 billion annually, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Ending Saturday service -- a proposal that was met with widespread criticism when it was first proposed in 2012 -- could save $2 billion a year.

"A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America's changing use of mail," said Issa, who sponsored the bill and chairs the committee. "Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service."

The legislation would permit free door-to-door deliveries for hardship exemptions and allow others to continue receiving deliveries for small, unspecified fees. Saturday package deliveries of medicines and other items would continue.

The bill was approved on a party-line vote, with 22 Republicans supporting it and 17 Democrats opposed.

Issa said the legislation, which still must pass the full House of Representatives and Senate, would enable the cash-strapped Postal Service to continue providing adequate service and meet expenses.

The Postal Service doesn't receive federal money but does get congressional oversight. Mail deliveries are down nearly 25% since a 2006 peak, and the agency is required to prepay future retiree health benefits. The Postal Service lost $15.9billion in 2012 and more than $3.1billion in the first two fiscal quarters of 2013.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said his agency will evaluate the legislation to determine whether it meets a $20billion savings goal by 2017. Donahoe previously supported ending Saturday service, but that decision was scuttled in April.

Mail delivery costs about $30billion annually. Door-to-door delivery costs an average $353 per drop a year, vs. $224 for curbside service and $160 for cluster boxes, which are being used in new subdivisions, shopping malls and business parks.

The National Letter Carriers Association has opposed both an end to six-day mail service and door-to-door delivery.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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