Technological innovation — email and text messaging — has made first-class mail a dwindling, money-losing business for the U.S. Postal Service. But now, logistical innovation — delivering e-commerce giant Amazon's packages on Sundays — points the way toward 21st-century postal service relevance and financial stability.
Indeed, this contract — bringing Sunday Amazon package delivery to the New York City and Los Angeles metro areas for this holiday season, elsewhere next year — begs the question of why the postal service took so long to sign such a deal. Financial terms aren't being disclosed, according to The New York Times, but the contract does capitalize on the service's strengths.
From 2008 to 2012, annual first-class mail volume declined from 92 billion pieces to about 69 million, revenue from nearly $75 billion to $65 billion. But the postal service's package business grew, to about 3.5 billion pieces and $11.6 billion in revenue — and is profitable amid nearly $16 billion in 2012 losses.
The postal service expects similar deals with other merchants. That means brighter prospects regardless of whether Congress lets it end Saturday first-class delivery, raise postage rates or reduce its unique, thrice unmet obligation to pay $5.5 billion annually toward future retirees' health care.
The Amazon contract, the most exciting step the postal service has taken in ages, invigorates an operation too long stuck in the past. Hopefully, it's the first of many innovations to come.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.