February 7, 2013

USPS proposes limited Saturday

Mail won’t come over the weekend, but package delivery to remain six days a week

by Sarah Einselen

— If the U.S. Postal Service gets its way, you won’t get mail on Saturdays this summer — unless it’s a package.

The financially struggling USPS 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.

Mail would still go to post office boxes on Saturdays and post offices currently open on Saturdays would keep those hours.

Several local residents said the change wouldn’t have much effect on them.

“I think it’d be kind of nice,” said Gwen Cleland, a Logansport woman who estimated she mailed half a dozen letters a week. “We’re saving money that way.”

Cleland said most of her mailings were bills and cards to friends — and the mail she gets on Saturdays isn’t urgent.

“Mainly on Saturdays you only get junk mail and stuff,” she said.

Logansport real estate agent Beverly Spitznogle, who visited the Logansport Post Office on Wednesday to check her post office box, said the move wouldn’t affect her, either.

“It’s not that big a deal,” Spitznogle said. “Most of your mail comes Monday through Friday, usually the bulk of it on Monday.”

She checks her post office box daily and buy stamps by the roll, she said, mailing some 15 to 20 items per week. But ceasing Saturday delivery wouldn’t change anything for her.

“I think if they need to cut costs, that’s a good way to do it, rather than raising the price of stamps,” she said.

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.

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.

The agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.

Postal service market research and other research indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the postal service to reduce costs, the agency said.

But some still have concerns over the move.

“If you put a letter in the box late on Friday and it leaves the Post Office late on Monday, they’re not going to get it till the next Friday,” said Leonard Overly, who’s lived in Lucerne since 1975.

And Nancy Parsons, a Logansport woman, was concerned that local postal workers might see their hours cut or even lose their jobs.

“I think if they need to cut costs, that’s a good way to do it,” she said of cutting Saturday deliveries. “But I’m not sure it’s good for the people that work there.”

Her family members wouldn’t have to deal with that directly, but “right now it’s hard times for everybody,” Parsons said.

Local postal officials declined to comment on the move’s effect on Cass County. The regional spokeswoman for the USPS did not return calls for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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