As the U.S. Postal Service continues to lose money each year, a new report suggests a way to add to its bottom line: offer banklike services, such as a check cashing card that would allow holders to make purchases and pay bills online or even take out small loans. The idea is to provide services that are now unavailable in many communities.
The U.S. Postal Service lost some $16 billion last year and continues to bleed red ink. Congress has been unable to agree on a rescue plan.
The latest proposal would allow the post office to end Saturday delivery in a year and enable it to ship wine and beer.
The Postal Service's woes are familiar: People don't really send letters anymore, so first-class mail is down, and Congress makes the post office prepay future retiree benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion a year.
A 2002 photo of the San Francisco Processing and Distribution Center.
Credit Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
The head of the U.S. Postal Service has acknowledged that every piece of domestic mail is photographed for processing and that the information is sometimes made available to law enforcement, according to The Associated Press.
In an interview with the news agency, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says that exterior images of individual pieces of mail are snapped at some 200 processing facilities around the country primarily for sorting purposes, but that the images have been used "a couple of times" by law enforcement to trace letters in criminal cases.
This "curbside" delivery would remain, but "door-to-door" service would end under a new proposal.
Credit David Goldman / AP
The age-old standoff between mail carrier and Canis familiaris could be coming to an end if the latest plan to save the Postal Service goes ahead.
The proposal, approved by a House committee on Wednesday, would end door-to-door delivery by 2022. Instead, postal carriers would limit their deliveries to curbside — meaning boxes at the end of driveways — or to cluster boxes, a staple of many apartment complexes.
Each black dot represents the geometric center of a ZIP code.
Credit Matt Stiles / U.S. Census Bureau
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Zone Improvement Plan, the network of ZIP codes we use for everything from mail delivery to credit card security.
The U.S. Postal Service began using the five-digit codes on July 1, 1963, hoping they would improve the efficiency and speed of mail sorting. Since then, the codes have assumed a role in the identities of many Americans, helping to define where they live or work.