U.S. Postal service to cut delivery service to 5 days?

January 28, 2009

Washington (ChattahBox) — Postmaster General John E. Potter asked lawmakers to consider lifting the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week, due to declining mail volume. The post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year and, “if current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year,” Potter said in testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee. The massive losses are due to dwindling mail volume and rising costs.

Total mail volume was 202 billion items last year, more than 9 billion less than the year before, the largest single volume drop in history.  And, despite annual rate increases, Potter said 2009 could be the first year since 1946 that the actual amount of money collected by the post office declines. The next postal rate increase is scheduled for May, with the amount to be announced next month. Under current rules that would be limited to the amount of the increase in last year’s consumer price index, 3.8 percent. That would round to a 2-cent increase in the current 42-cent first class rate. The agency could request a larger increase because of the special circumstances, but Potter believes that would be counterproductive by causing mail volume to fall even more.

A study done by George Mason University last year for the independent Postal Regulatory Commission estimated that going from six-day to five-day delivery would save the post office more than $1.9 billion annually, while a Postal Service study estimated the saving at $3.5 billion.

If the change is made, that doesn’t necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day, such as Tuesday. Any decision on changing delivery would have to be made by the postal governing board.


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