Will the United States Postal Service's door-to-door mail delivery be a thing of the past?
Possibly, if California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa's proposal, which is aimed at cutting costs at the cash-strapped agency
, is passed.
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Issa's proposal would phase out door-to-door delivery over time and shift service to curbside and neighborhood cluster boxes in an attempt to save $4.5 billion a year from the $30 billion the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) currently spends on delivery.
"A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America's changing use of mail,'' Issa said in a statement. "Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service."
In most American cities, it costs the USPS $353 for each stop that the mailperson has to walk to the door, CNN Money reported
, factoring in travel expenses and salaries.
According to a report from the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General, curbside mail box delivery would cost $224, while cluster boxes would cost the mail service just $160.
Issa's proposal has been criticized by the National Letter Carriers Union, which claims that such a change would be disruptive for the elderly and disabled, who depend on door-to-door delivery, and inconvenient for others.
"It's madness," Jim Sauber, chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers, told CNN. "The idea that somebody is going to walk down to their mailbox in Buffalo, N.Y., in the winter snow to get their mail is just crazy."
The Greeting Card Association reportedly voiced support for Issa's proposal, which they say is a better alternative to doing away with Saturday delivery, an idea that had been floated
but the USPS board blocked.
After the USPS announced in February the intention to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail beginning Aug. 1, the mail agency backed down from its plan in March due to a Congressional mandate
for Saturday delivery that had been on the books since the 1980s.
In addition to the $16 billion the agency lost last year, it defaulted on payments twice it owed to the federal government to prefund retiree health care benefits totaling $11 billion. The agency also has exhausted a $15 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.
Issa's proposal would allow for free hardship exemptions and door-to-door deliveries for small
, unspecified fees, according to Ali Ahmad, communications adviser to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee which Issa chairs, USA TODAY reported.
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