Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mail Call

The USPS will for the time being at least will not be delivering the mail at the home mail box. Instead is in the process of installing "cluster box units", like the one shown left, serving a number of residences.

The U.S. Postal Service calls them cluster box units: curbside stands set into concrete bases with six, eight or 12 thin mailboxes as well as larger boxes for packages, and an outgoing mail slot.

Although more common in fast-growing cities such as Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, there were about 50 such stands in New Orleans before Katrina, mostly at apartment complexes and strip malls, said Alan J. Cousin, New Orleans postmaster. Residents use a key to remove mail from one of the units a short walk from their homes.

In an effort to end the trek for about 50,000 New Orleans residents who must drive to post offices to retrieve their mail, the U.S. Postal Service has set up about 60 cluster box units in neighborhoods throughout the city. Another 200 will be installed in the next 30 days, Cousin said.

My only question is, if the mail carrier can deliver the mail to these boxes, why can't they deliver them to the individual homes? I can't see this being a cost saving measure. If the USPS installs 200 units at $1,100 each, this will add up to $220,000 for the entire project. If that money were used to employ additional mail carriers, and assuming each employee cost $50,000 anually, the Post Office could hire four more carriers. But I don't see where more mail carriers are needed compaired to pre-Katrina. Since the population of New Orleans is less than 40% of the the pre-Katrina population, fewer mail-carriers are needed, one would think.

The only logical reason for installing these mail boxes is that the Post Office simply want's to deliver the mail with less effort.

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