Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Postal Service Ending Saturday Delivery

In an announcement this morning, the United States Postal Service is announcing that it is ending Saturday delivery of mail.  The AP reports:
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says.

In an announcement scheduled for 10 a.m. today, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.

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.

It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval. 
On-line I found the somewhat dated Post Service FAQs that answers that question as well as others:
 What has to happen in order for five-day delivery to take effect?
The Postal Service is currently required by Federal law to deliver mail six days a week in fiscal year 2010, but not beyond then. Implementation of a five-day delivery schedule in fiscal year 2011 would be contingent upon Congress not enacting legislation to prevent such a change. In addition, the Postal Service must file a request for a non-binding advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission. If the Postal Service implements five-day delivery, it would take effect in fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011).
So the U.S. Postal Service no longer needs Congress' approval to move to a five day delivery week.  But Congress can pass legislation to stop such a move.

Whether or not Congress takes that action, six day post office delivery appears to be on its death bed.  More and more communication travels via the Internet.  Utility bills are emailed instead of mailed. Payment on those bills are made electronically.  Fewer and fewer people are using "snail mail," opting for electronic mail instead.  Mail volume decreased 20% from 2006 to 2010.  The use of regular mail is only going to decrease more as people opt for more instant and faster communication.


varangianguard said...

I like "snail mail". I use commemorative stamps for the stamp collectors amongst us.

Pete Boggs said...

Maybe light rail dis-service will ferry Saturday mail.

Nicolas Martin said...

"Small government" Republicans have been conspicuously absent from the discussion about allowing competition for mail delivery. Only libertarians have taken up that cause over the years.

Unigov said...

Though I understand the concern, the Post Office monopoly is not something I worry much about. Universal mail delivery was very important until very recently in our history.

In fairness to the USPS, businesses violate its constitutional monopoly a million times a day by sending non-urgent content through FedEx and UPS. Only letters with true time-urgency can circumvent the USPS, but this is rarely enforced.

The concerns I have with the USPS:

1) It charges a small fraction of the first-class postage price, for mass mailings of much heavier items like magazines. Business interests have taken over USPS in order to deliver magazines and junk mail.

2) The USPS intentionally increased postage by a penny or two at a time, in order to increase the waste of stamps.

3) Residential delivery has become a socialist jobs program. Ralph Nader for example is apoplectic over cutting Saturday delivery. Residential delivery should be cut back to match demand, like any other service has to adjust. If this were done, USPS would wind down to 2 residential deliveries per week, because nobody really needs mail faster than that. This could be done over a period of 10 years, so as not to cause layoffs. Doing this would vastly reduce USPS's costs.

Unigov said...

btw - Nicolas - the phrase "Small government" Republicans has become a bit meaningless ! in mathematics, that sort of thing is called "the empty set" ! lol