E-mail, on-line banking and other conveniences continue to grow in popularity so the U.S. Postal Service is phasing out some of the ways Iowans buy stamps and mail their letters.
USPS spokesman Richard Watkins says fewer Iowans are using stamp vending machines in post office lobbies so many of those relics are being removed. “Most of them are 20 years old, at least, and it’s becoming a big problem to get parts to replace them,” Watkins says. “With the Treasury Department coming out with new currency in the one, five and ten-dollar bills, those older machines have to be retrofitted to accept those new bills and that’s become a great expense for the postal service.”
He says there were about 400 stamp vending machines in Iowa at the start of this year. By the end of the year, it’ll be closer to 200 statewide. “Most of the stamps are bought at the counter,” Watkins says. “There are still some people who use the single-stamp vending machines and those will still be around, in fact, some of the low-volume single-stamp machines will be used and placed into higher-volume areas where data shows people are buying those in post office lobbies around the clock.”
The familiar blue mailboxes on Iowa street corners are also becoming less popular, so Watkins says they’re being removed too, by the hundreds. “First Class mail volume has dropped significantly over the past several years so there are fewer letters in there,” Watkins says. “When the postal service ‘taps’ those boxes several times a day and there’s lower volume, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to continue to send a carrier and fuel a vehicle and to spend those resources where the volume of mail does not justify it.”
He says about 500 mail collection boxes have been removed in Iowa in recent months. Some 2500 remain statewide.
The Postal Service plans to eliminate 23,000 stamp vending machines nationwide by 2010, while more than 42,000 blue collection boxes have also be removed.