Postal service to remove blue mail boxes |

Postal service to remove blue mail boxes

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunThe U.S. Postal Service will be removing post boxes in the United States due to lack of use. No mail boxes will be removed in Truckee and on the North Shore, yet.

Fare thee well, big, blue mailbox.

The U.S. Postal Service is pulling out thousands of mail boxes nationwide because fewer people are sending good ol’ snail mail, and more people are using e-mail and paying bills online.

But local postal workers and national representatives are saying there is nothing to worry about on the North Shore and in Truckee because those boxes are likely to stay right where they are.

“I haven’t heard anything about it ” I can’t imagine,” said Caroline Cutler, interim postmaster for the Truckee post offices. “Of course, with the Internet, the volume of first class mail has decreased because people are paying bills on line.”

First class mail was down by 500 million pieces this year compared to last and is expected to keep going down. So mailboxes with fewer than 25 pieces a day are taken away or moved to a busier spot, said U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Yvonne Yeager.

The only way to know how many pieces of mail are in a mailbox is, of course, to count them.

“We have random checks and will check the boxes for a number of weeks to see how much volume is coming out of there,” said Tena Maximoff, postal service customer relations coordinator. “These boxes are very expensive for us and mail carriers sometimes have to deviate from a more economical route in order to make (blue box) pick-ups.”

But Tena maintained that relocating or removing a public mailbox is up to the discretion of the local postmaster, and at this time no one in Truckee or on the North Shore has voiced a desire to act.

It’s hard to say whether removing blue boxes would disturb customers.

Some, like Olympic Valley resident Whitney Thompson, said they would be unfazed by the change because they prefer sending mail from inside the post office or electronically.

But Otis Kantz, a Truckee resident who frequents the blue mailbox outside of Wild Cherries Coffee House, said he wasn’t keen on the idea.

“I come down for a cup of coffee and put all my mail in the box as I come in,” Kantz said. “I will just have to deal with it (if the box is removed), but it will be inconvenient. It’s just like taking phone booths out because nobody uses them.”

The blue box to-do falls on the heels of two pieces of federal legislation that target U.S. Postal Service reform and have passed both the House and the Senate and are now awaiting the signature of President George Bush.

In December 2003, the president established five principles to guide comprehensive postal reform: best practices of corporate governance, transparency, flexibility, accountability, and self-financing.

The result was the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, HR22 and S662, which have been passed by both the house and the senate and are now awaiting the President’s signature.

S662 would change the laws that govern the operation of the United States Postal Service, particularly those regarding the cost of pensions and health care benefits of retired workers and the requirement to hold certain funds in escrow. S662 would also make other changes designed to increase the Postal Service’s competitiveness with private industry. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that enacting this legislation would result in on-budget savings of $37.7 billion and would offset off-budget costs of $41.6 billion over the 2006-2015 period.

The objective of the HR 22 is to position the Postal Service to operate in a more business-like manner by being more responsive to market considerations and by providing clear incentives for postal management and the Postal Service. The Postal Service would no longer operate under a break-even mandate. By maximizing gains and minimizing costs, the Postal Service could generate earnings that would be retained, and which could be distributed as incentives to management and employees through collective bargaining. In the same way, losses could not be recovered by increasing rates beyond specific parameters without regulatory approval.

” Source: Congressional Budget Office, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of Management and Budget

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