“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” — while the United States Postal Service (USPS) has no official motto, this well-known refrain reflects a key aspect of the organization’s operations: the universal service obligation (USO).
The USO is not contained in any one document, but has been defined through multiple statutes over the course of the past century. It outlines that the USPS is obligated to provide the American public with trusted, affordable, and universal service across multiple dimensions — including geography. Rural free delivery of mail by the USPS became a permanent service in July 1902. Today, despite being home to 16% of the US population, rural areas comprise 88% of the area served by the Postal Service, and 57% of post offices are in rural areas.