In the neighborhoods of tomorrow, door-to-door mail delivery will be a thing of the past.
If U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) gets his way, door-to-door delivery will be gone within a decade for 15 million addresses. Issa estimates $2 billion in savings from the bill approved on Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which the congressman heads.
USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan, commenting only on USPS policy, told Target Marketing cluster boxes specifically for new homes are old news.
“Door delivery for new construction has not been an option for decades—since the 1980s,” she writes in an email response. “The Postal Service recognized long ago that door delivery was very expensive and time-consuming. It was also recognized that eliminating door delivery and establishing centralized delivery would not be possible in all neighborhoods.”
In April 2013, USPS began telling new home developers whether to add cluster boxes or whether, in rarer cases, the postal service would deliver curbside. (USPS put this measure in its regulations in April 2012, according a May 2014 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.)
US GAO figures show door-to-door delivery costs the USPS $380 a year “per delivery point” and $170 for each central location. If letter carriers can deliver curbside, the price is in between at $240.
“At more than $30 billion annually, delivering mail to 153 million addresses in the United States is the largest, single fixed-cost the Postal Service incurs,” Brennan writes.
The US GAO reports businesses were more willing to voluntarily convert mail delivery to central points when asked during Fiscal Year 2013: 0.8 percent of 5.6 million company delivery points changed. As for homeowners, 0.1 percent of 32.2 million “residential door delivery points” did the same.
The US GAO notes this information is based on statistically updated 1994 data and suggested a new study be performed to gain more accurate information.
USPS has encountered a lot of change since 1994.
“While mail volume has declined considerably over the past several years, changes in delivery costs are not proportionate to changes in mail volume,” Brennan writes. “The letter carrier must deliver to each address, in most cases, daily whether he or she is delivering one piece of mail or 10.”
With the advent of email, social media and many other contributors to mail volume decline, USPS tried many efforts to save money. Many efforts to save money are failing or stagnant, including a proposed end to Saturday delivery, adding mini post offices to Staples stores and being released from the “legislative requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund its retiree health benefits.”
For now, one of the options the USPS is exercising is its oversight of mailbox placement in new home construction.
As for existing delivery points, residential or commercial, Brennan writes that the policy remains the same.
“Voluntary-mode conversion has been a longstanding practice and will continue into the future,” she says.
What else can the USPS do?