Ah, the old days. When you sifted through the mail every day hoping for an envelope with your name written on it. When your hand hurt from describing all the things that have been going on in your life. When you could identify someone by the way they wrote. Yes, those were the days of letters; the days of waiting anxiously to hear from friends or family members. But in the early 1970s, the days of waiting began ending.
When Ray Tomlinson created the first email using an ARPANET (the core network of the now-global Internet), everything about communication changed. By the mid-1980s, you could email people via university and research computers and by the 1990s, email boomed at home. Suddenly, you didn’t have to wait for the mailman – you could check your mail day or night. And you could send it whenever you felt like it.
Since this inbox phenomenon, The U.S. Postal Service has been on the downfall. Last year, the USPS lost over $8 billion and say they could be losing over $18 billion annually by 2015. So how can they stop going down the tubes? So far, they’ve selected over 3,700 post office locations to review for closure and as of late January, shipping prices have been raised by 4.6 percent. They’re also eliminating Saturday shipping and asking Congress for permission to up the price of stamps to 50 cents per stamp.
So if email is the problem, it can’t possibly be the solution.
…or can it?
Masters students have been writing theses on this idea for years. In an article by David Banks, he suggests a new method: Since most of the USPS revenue goes to gas for its enormous fleet of trucks, they could eliminate door-to-door delivery service to cut down on gas costs and instead, set up ‘Neighborhood Package Centers’. A package would arrive at the NPCs instead of being delivered and the USPS would notify the recipient of its arrival via email. The recipient would then go to their local NPC to pick up the package. The NPCs would not only save the USPS, but also generate traffic in the area and boost economy. (To read more, click here.)
What are your thoughts? What do you think needs to happen for the USPS to stay alive?