By Steven Penn
In a national announcement Wednesday, officials with the United States Postal Service (USPS) have decided to do away with Saturday mail service — excluding package delivery — in hopes it will quell its financial woes.
Per information provided by the USPS, the plan is to transition to a new delivery schedule during the week of Aug. 5 that includes package delivery Monday through Saturday, and mail delivery
Monday through Friday. The USPS says once the plan is fully implemented, it expects to generate savings of about $2 billion annually.
“The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits,” Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, said in a press release. “We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.”
In recent years, the USPS said it has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. But recent strong growth in package delivery (a 14 percent volume increase since 2012) and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week.
“Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform,” Donahoe said. “As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services — especially due to the rise of e-commerce — we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America’s businesses.”
The USPS explained that once implemented during August, mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday.
Packages will continue to be delivered six days per week. Mail addressed to P.O. boxes would continue to be delivered on Saturdays. Post offices currently open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays.
The USPS released market research conducted in-house and independent research by major news organizations, which indicates that nearly 70 percent of Americans supported the delivery switch as a way to reduce costs and return the organization to financial stability.
The organization states that support for this approach will likely be even higher since the USPS plans to maintain six-day package delivery.
The decision to announce the change six months in advance is an effort to give residential and business customers time to plan and adjust. The USPS said it plans to publish specific guidance about the new schedule in the near future for those customers.
Last month, in the midst of ongoing financial challenges, the USPS Board of Governors instructed postal management to fast-track the restructuring of the organization’s operations in an effort to strengthen its finances.
“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Donahoe said. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”
The USPS said it’s currently implementing major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery, and mail processing operations.
Adding that since 2006, it has reduced its annual cost base by about $15 billion, reduced the size of its career workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.
The organization notes that while the change in the delivery schedule is one action needed to restore the financial health of the USPS, it needs a legislative change to address matters outside of its control. The USPS said it continues to seek legislation to allow greater flexibility to control costs and to generate new revenue and encourages the 113th Congress to make postal reform legislation a priority.
The USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies
on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
Locally, the majority of Facebook users commenting on the
Hendricks County Flyer’s page seem to either think it’s a good idea or are indifferent to the delivery change.
Jessica Carver-Skinner said as long as the switch allows the USPS to remain an institution, she’s fine with it.
“If it will save us as a whole from losing USPS for good, it’s a good step,” she wrote. “I know it’s one day less work for everyone, but isn’t that better than closing more post offices and all the employees losing their jobs? As someone who loves to send and receive real letters and notes, I would mourn the loss of a piece of our history if we had to do without it all together.”
Cyndi Greer Miller said she felt it was important to keep costs down and people employed.
“If that’s what they have to do to keep costs down to the consumer and keep people employed, then I say it’s a good move,” she wrote. “But if it’s just to keep profits in a higher bracket, it’s wrong.”
However, several Facebook posters noted that they rarely used “snail mail.”
“It makes little difference to me,” Rebecca Guthridge wrote. “Most of the mail these days consist of junk mail.”
Trevor Holland said the change won’t affect his family.
“It’s a sign of the times,” he wrote. “I’m not mad. Half of the time my family forgets to check the mail over the weekend anyway.”
Some users posted their own ideas.
“They should go to alternate delivery days,” Mark O’Hara posted. “M/W/F or T/T/S. You get your mail on one of these schedules. Would use half the fleet of vehicles and a lot less personnel.”