KTVH: Tester demands USPS return Bozeman mailboxes

by Mike Dennison

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester Monday asked the U.S. Postal Service to “immediately replace” four mail-collection boxes removed from central Bozeman last year, saying it inaccurately claimed the boxes have “low density” use.

“Removing collection boxes in busy areas of one of America’s fastest-growing cities is not a step in the right direction,” he wrote in a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

The Postal Service removed three of the traditional blue collection boxes in downtown Bozeman, on Main Street, and one near the Montana State University campus, on College Avenue.

Tester made national news last summer when he called out the USPS for removing mail-collection boxes in various Montana cities, in advance of the November election, which was conducted almost entirely by mail in Montana.

Postal officials have said they routinely conduct “density” studies on the use of collection boxes and remove those that have low use.

Tester said in his letter Monday that the density studies on the Bozeman boxes were done in September 2019 and June 2020 – two period when students are not on the MSU campus.

“It is unlikely that USPS got an accurate density reading and relied on misleading data to justify the collection boxes’ removal,” he wrote. “The U.S. Postal Service plays a critical role in America, and its services are needed now more than ever, particularly in growing communities like Bozeman, where individuals and small businesses rely on USPS to deliver rent checks, tax information, billing statements and payments.”