Rep. Jo Ann Emerson says Five-Day Delivery Hurts Rural Areas

March 3, 2010

Five-Day Postal Delivery Hurts Rural Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08) responded to an announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will seek to drop one day of home delivery in an effort to offset budget shortfalls. Emerson, who represents the mostly-rural Eighth Congressional District in Southern Missouri, says the reduction of delivery days would adversely affect residents of her part of the state.

“There are many, many considerations the U.S. Postal Service must take into account before making a decision about removing a day from the weekly mail delivery to American homes and businesses,” Emerson said. “Especially in rural areas, the timeliness of financial information, bills to be paid and even deliveries of medicine by mail is important. Many of our daily rural newspapers rely on six-day delivery to get their news to their customers. And I am also concerned that the postal service is focused on cutting back service and potentially losing millions of customers rather than finding long-term solutions to these budget woes.

“In an urban area where the post office is right around the corner, these issues might not be so severe, but for residents of rural areas like Southern Missouri the nearest post office might be miles away. On top of the challenges of getting to a nearby post office is the fact that many of these rural facilities are threatened with closure every year,” Emerson said.

The content of Emerson’s letter to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission is attached:

Nowhere in the nation do Americans appreciate the regular, personal, efficient service of the U.S. Postal Service than in rural areas of the country. I am honored to represent the rural Eighth Congressional District of Missouri, and the intention to limit mail delivery to five days per week would directly and adversely affect thousands of the constituents I serve. I appreciate and understand the severity of the financial difficulties facing the U.S. Postal Service, but I remain opposed to the reduction in postal delivery for reasons I hope to explain in this letter.

First, the opportunity to walk to the corner post office is not a luxury many Americans in rural areas enjoy. The nearest postal facility where people in rural areas can rent a box or go to drop off their outgoing mail may be several miles from home. Elderly and disabled residents in these rural counties rely on the Postal Service to come to them, because they often cannot go to the Post Office.

Newspapers in rural areas, too, rely on six-day delivery to communicate the news of their communities to residents of their circulation areas. Many of these are papers of record, and many more daily papers would lose advertising revenue by being forced to drop one issue per week.

Another issue arises during inclement weather situations, which we in Southern Missouri have experienced more than once in the last year. Ice and snow do sometimes make regular postal delivery impossible. The loss of one more day in the week which would otherwise allow carriers to make up for the delay in service is a further impediment to customers with bills to mail and correspondence to send.

In addition, under certain circumstances, a day’s delay in postal services can mean a two-day delivery becomes a five-day delivery. This is especially concerning when the mail contains a supply of medicine or time-sensitive financial information. I remain very concerned about the unintended consequences of delaying delivery of certain envelopes and parcels to all of the USPS’s customers.

Finally, I am not convinced that the USPS has adequately pursued alternatives to reducing delivery to five days. Other options exist, namely, executive salary reductions, better-negotiated vehicle acquisitions for the USPS fleet, concessions from the groups representing Postal Service employees who also wish to see the USPS return to profitability, and cost-cutting measures that would further streamline postal operations.

For these reasons, the FY2010 Financial Services Appropriations bill contains language requiring the USPS to maintain six-day delivery. I would like to insist that this language be adhered to by the USPS and the Postal Commission and encourage you to reconsider this decision. It is extremely important to your customers in rural areas of the country like Southern Missouri. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Very sincerely,

Member of Congress

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