Monday, July 26, 2010

End of Saturday mail would hurt rural areas most

If the U.S. Postal Service follows through on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery, rural Americans may be among those hurt the most by the decision. The end to Saturday mail could be particularly painful for "rural customers who live far from post offices and depend on letter carriers for government checks, prescription medicines and parts for farming equipment," Ledyard King of Gannett Co.'s Washington, D.C., bureau reports. While post offices would remain open on Saturdays, for access to mailboxes, that may be "little solace to residents, especially the elderly, who live in remote areas underserved by the Internet," King writes.

"The very principle of the Postal Service is to give universal service to everybody. If they don’t do it, the people will lose that benefit in the rural areas," Paul Katzer, a letter carrier from Montrose, S.D., who serves 276 customers on his 130-mile route, told King. "The New York Citys, the Chicagos, if there’s a need for delivery service, there’s a company that will do it in those areas, but not out here. Rural America will be hurt by this." Groups that rely heavily on six-day service, including weekly newspapers and prescription mail-order companies, are protesting the proposal, but officials say the other "alternative is a significant across-the-board increase in postal rates and that would anger other users," King writes.

"Some people haven’t quite come to terms with that. Just because you go to five-day (delivery), it doesn’t mean the whole world collapses for them," Samuel Pulcrano, vice president of sustainability for the Postal Service, told King. "It’s simply a matter of adjusting." Chip Sawyer, program manager for the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont, told King while the proposal will hurt rural communities they should focus their energy on pushing for greater electronic access, such as expansion of broadband services."It would be worse for rural areas if they were not provided with universal high-speed Internet access in the near future," he told King. "If one is to assume that rural residents are using the mail primarily for paying bills and corresponding socially, then it would seem that those who would lose out the most with the removal of Saturday delivery are those who have the hardest time connecting to and using current Internet options." (Read more)

1 comment:

Brian F said...

I almost wonder if it wouldn't be better to eliminate on a day in the middle of the week so that people like this would never have to go two days in a row without mail service.