U.S. Postal Service: Buh Bye Saturday Mail

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that starting soon Saturday mail will be a thing of the past:

The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week, an apparent end-run around an unaccommodating Congress.

The service expects the Saturday mail cutback to begin the week of Aug. 5 and to save about $2 billion annually, said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe.
“Our financial condition is urgent,” Donahoe told a press conference.

The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages — and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

Congress has included a ban on five-day delivery in its appropriations bill. But because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe says it’s the agency’s interpretation that it can make the change itself.

“This is not like a ‘gotcha’ or anything like that,” he said. The agency is essentially asking Congress not to reimpose the ban when the spending measure expires on March 27 and he said he would work with Congress on the issue.

This is not surprising given the trajectory of price increases and the way the USPS has be struggled in recent years. The question now becomes: after this, what else can they cut and still provide the mail?

13 Comments

  1. How many examples do we need that our country’s infrastructure and services are underfunded and/or poorly managed and/or inefficient and/or inappropriate for the times? Where are the re-evaluations and reforms? Those that are satisfied with the status quo are those that are satisfied with the continued downward slope of our country.

  2. I think if Congress released them from having to fund pensions decades ahead from now, that might be one area.

    BTW, has the USPS always had Saturday service? I can’t remember, but it seems like when I was a child in the 70s and 80s, the post office wasn’t open and we didn’t get home mail delivery. But, I could be wrong.

  3. BTW, has the USPS always had Saturday service?

    I have a vague memory (twas a wee lad then) of twice a day service so I looked it up and found that until the early 50′s residential mail was delivered twice a day…

    ….. were instructed to deliver letters frequently and promptly – generally twice a day to homes and up to four times a day to businesses. The second residential delivery was discontinued on April 17, 1950, in most cities. Multiple deliveries to businesses were phased out over the next few decades as changing transportation patterns made most mail available for first-trip delivery.” quote from USPS website postalhistory City Delivery

  4. The Postal Service problem is very Bizarre. I don’t understand it at all. However Saturday service to PO boxes will not be affected so my mail service will not be affected.

  5. In re-reading the USPS ‘Reaching Out to Everybody’ article I realize I should have included the entire paragraph and the one before to put how hard mail carriers were made to work in order for our mail to be delivered…

    So here they are (emphasis mine):

    Originally, letter carriers worked 52 weeks a year, typically 9 to 11 hours a day from Monday through Saturday, and if necessary, part of Sunday. An Act of June 27, 1884, granted them 15 days of leave per year. In 1888, Congress declared that 8 hours was a full day’s work and that carriers would be paid for additional hours worked per day. The 40-hour work week began in 1935.
    .
    Carriers walked as many as 22 miles a day, carrying up to 50 pounds of mail at a time. They were instructed to deliver letters frequently and promptly — generally twice a day to homes and up to four times a day to businesses. The second residential delivery was discontinued on April 17, 1950, in most cities. Multiple deliveries to businesses were phased out over the next few decades as changing transportation patterns made most mail available for first-trip delivery. The weight limit of a carrier’s load was reduced to 35 pounds by the mid-1950s and remains the same today.

    The sad thing is that there are those who will try to blame the unions (organized labor) for making the letter carrier job a humane one for today’s postal ‘crisis’ [sic]

    Ah, for the good old days when workers had to work 52 weeks a year… six+ days a week… 9 to 11 hours a day… Those damn unions made them a bunch of wimps and now ‘we’ have to pay. < / snark >

  6. The question is….
    Do we need snail mail 5 times a week? Why not just m,tu,th,f?

    What is the actual public need?

  7. Businesses use snail mail a lot. You can’t just get rid of it.

    And if the USPS is losing money, they need to charge more for their services. Its not rocket surgery.

  8. ShannonLeee asks: “Do we need snail mail 5 times a week?”

    NetFlix needs snail mail 5 times a week… But the stories I’ve read so far make it sound like congress (or USPS Execs) are planing a Saturday exemption for them and other businesses. No details yet but don’t be surprised if it’s along the lines of Saturday business residential deliveries only (no residential pickup) but what the hell, who do the American Citizens think they are… A Corporation or something?

    Edit to add: I agree with slamfu, businesses DO need five day a week service as, IMO, do we all… If they have to charge more or, heaven forbid, cut some of the executive fat so be it.

  9. 20 years from now we will have no need for letter mail, unless dealing with a third world country. All official mail will be done electronically.

    I’m still shocked the companies use fax machines. Ever heard of a scanner?

    …and I do agree with charging more. They need to charge what the market will allow, no less.

  10. The USPS last year moved 167 Billion pieces of mail. They process in 3 days a tonnage of mail that equals that annual shipping of FedEx and UPS combined. People need stuff sent to places, that is never going to entirely disappear.

  11. Just to reiterate what brcarthy indicated:

    the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The roughly $5.5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger.

  12. So is this all a plot to privatize the mail delivery system? Good luck with that. As far as Saturday delivery, I haven’t really been tracking it, but Iit seems like it’s been a long, long time since I got any mail on either Saturday or Monday. I think they’ve been easing us into it on the QT.

  13. Isn’t there always a plot? :)

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