(NEXSTAR) – A 10-year plan aimed at bringing financial stability to the United States Postal Service will include cuts to branch hours, postage increases and longer delivery windows, according to details released Tuesday.
The USPS changes were laid out in a long-anticipated planning document released online. The 58-page document details how a decline in mail volumes and increase in packages has made the traditional 3-day First Class delivery deadline more costly and logistically difficult hit.
Here are some of the highlights from the “Delivering for America” plan:
- USPS officials say their proposed changes will close a $160 billion budget shortfall over the next ten years.
- The agency will “consolidate low-traffic stations and branches of city Post Offices” and trim hours and services at retail locations to “meet customer demand.”
- The plan calls for a “more rational pricing approach” which will likely mean increases, though specific increases were not mentioned. The USPS has worked under pricing restrictions, and the plan suggests those caps have hurt the agency’s ability to stay in the black.
- A number of flat material sorting machines will be replaced with packaging processing units.
- USPS will invest in at least 50,000 new delivery vehicles with the promise that they will prove more environmentally friendly than their predecessors.
- New digital tools will improve the ability to track coming deliveries and provide the agency with better data to streamline efficiency.
- The agency is “evaluating the addition of approximately 45 annex facilities to be placed near processing centers in key locations.”
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy called the plan a “very positive vision” that would help prevent the need for future government bailouts.
DeJoy, a prominent donor to former President Donald Trump, has come under heavy criticism for a series of operational changes that slowed mail before the 2020 elections. The policy shifts fueled fears that DeJoy was attempting to sabotage the agency on the behalf of Trump, a vocal critic of mail voting, before it handled unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots. Despite the worries, the agency said, it delivered more than 99% of ballots within five days.
President Joe Biden does not directly have the authority to remove Dejoy, and Democrats have been pressing the president to nominate a slate of potential governors who could do just that. Biden nominated three new members at the end of January.
“There are parts of the plan that raise deep concerns,” the American Postal Workers Union wrote in response to the plan. “At a time that the public is demanding faster delivery of mail and packages, proposals that would slow the mail and reduce retail services – such as changing service standards, plant consolidations and reducing operating hours at post offices – will only have a negative effect on postal workers and the public.”
The union did call other elements of the plan “welcome proposals.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.