Postal Service May Cut Back On Delivery Days

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Money, Social Programs

Apparently everybody is tightening their belts.

From Wash Post:

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee yesterday, Postmaster General John E. Potter said the post office may be forced to cut back to five-day delivery for the first time in the agency’s history, citing rising costs and an ongoing decline in mail made worse by the global recession. The potential move, which would have to be approved by Congress and postal officials, could mean the elimination of mail on either Saturdays or Tuesdays, the system’s slowest days, postal officials said.

“It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable,” Potter said, adding that the agency may face a deficit of more than $6 billion in the current fiscal year. “I do not make this request lightly, but I am forced to consider every option, given the severity of our challenge.”

The prospect of a shortened delivery week marks the latest setback for the storied post office, which was founded in 1775 with Benjamin Franklin serving as the first postmaster general. It ranks as one of the nation’s largest employers, with about 700,000 career employees.

The benefits of this are two-fold.

First, the fewer the days the mail is delivered, the less gas the Post Office uses. Demand goes down, price goes down.

Second, I’d rather miss a Tuesday delivery than a Saturday one. That way the mail carriers have a normal work week and a premium is placed on getting mail to you on the weekends via Express Mail. This model would be much more competitive with FedEx, etc.

Sound reasonable?

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 and is filed under Money, Social Programs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “Postal Service May Cut Back On Delivery Days”

  1. Brian in GA Says:

    “First, the fewer the days the mail is delivered, the less gas the Post Office uses. Demand goes down, price goes down.”

    Sorry Justin, your sound logic only applies to free economic systems. It is lost on government monopolies and heavily unionized industries. As demand goes down in this case, price will go up to support the incredible “bloat” that is built up in the labor costs of the post office and their retirement system.

    This is however, another strong argument for privatization of the postal service as our government runs billion dollar budget deficits.

  2. Doug Mataconis Says:

    I use email or fax for most correspondence, and FedEx for time sensitive documents.

    Banking and bill paying is all electronic.

    So if the Pony Express USPS wants to put irrelevant crap and Pottery Barn catalogs in a box in front of my house one less day a week, that’s fine by me.

  3. Brian Krenz Says:

    I have wondered for a long time why we don’t just privatize the postal service. It’s ineffective as is, and a $6 billion deficit is unreasonable for something we don’t really need.

    Email and the internets will solve most needs and FedEx/UPS/private USPS can handle the rest.

    Win, win, win.

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    Why not drop right down to 3 days a week right now. Snail mail is going extinct, anyway. Let the hardcopy direct mail marketers fund it.

  5. Brian in GA Says:

    You still have an organization with 700,000 career employees!!! You can drop down to 1 day a week but your fixed costs, pensions, equipment maintenance and building costs are still there!

    Better to privatize, sell the assets to fund the pension plans as promised and then move on. Or even lease the facilities to a private companies.

  6. Doug Mataconis Says:

    Brian In GA,


    This talk about cutting back on service for one day is nonsense. It’s most likely a political ploy on the part of the USPS Board of Governors to get more federal money to subsidize their failing business.

  7. The Maine View Says:

    I would be really surprised if they privatized the USPS during this administration. Then again, if Obama is as pragmatic as he says we could see it happen. I’d like to see them do it, as long as they could guarantee a majority of the current USPS jobs, offer early retirement, etc.

  8. Brian in GA Says:

    There are a couple of USPS facilities that are basically run with employees from Pitney Bowes with just a couple of USPS folks around to “supervise.” I don’t know a lot of the details but the concept is interesting.

    My buddy is in postal enforcement and said there are moves underway to try joint operations to cut cost. We will see.

  9. Ed Says:

    Federal subsidies? USPS receives no money from the Fed Govt, it is a self sufficient system as of 1971. Try to keep up. As for Tuesday non service would this give postal employees a ‘normal workweek’? How would you like to have Sun/Tues off every week? Privatize the USPS and who is gonna put mail in your mailbox? 5 or 6 different 18 year old illegals walking the street with canvas bags on their shoulder? That’s exactly what you will get. I don’t think the american people will tolerate that very long.

  10. J Says:

    Ed: And where does money for the pensions and healthcare of postal employees come from if not the Federal government?

    Companies like DHL, UPS, and Fedex seem to do a pretty damn good job of parcel delivery, what exactly is so technically challenging about mail delivery that it can be handled only by a government organization?

    The beautiful thing about the free market is that, if the consumers don’t like the way you are operating, they will take their business elsewhere…. That is, as long as the government doesn’t set up a monopoly and make competition illegal (i.e. Private Express Statutes).

  11. Don Stilwell Says:

    You folks that denegrate the USPS and extoll the virtues of Fedex and UPS overlook the FACT that UPS/Fedex send their parcels that are going to seldom served areas through the USPS. It unprofitable for them to send a truck and driver many miles for the delivery of one small, low revenue item, so they let the USPS eat the expense, keeps their books in the black while USPS shows a loss.
    Also you talk about privatizing the USPS. That allows many different companies to jump into the delivery of the mail. While I agree that a goodly portion of the mail is “junk,” IE advertising, political flyers, etc, I am sure you would be surprised how many Social Security checks and other sources of retirement income go through the USPS.
    How many hands would you like to have going into your mailbox if you were expecting your sole source of subsistance to be there.
    If your Granny’s retirement check was delivered by one privatized carrier, and the next one took it out of the mailbox, who does your Granny hold responsible?
    That is the sound reason for “monopoly” that the USPS has, the sanctity of the mail
    After all if it is privitized, any company that had the resources, or connections, could secure a delivery contract. How many companies sell gasoline in your city? Same rules apply.
    You have to think of all of the ramifications, not just accept the easiest looking solution.

  12. Jasmine T Says:

    hey great thing you got going here as for what Don said:”That is the sound reason for “monopoly” that the USPS has, the sanctity of the mail”
    it sure is man

  13. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Postal Service Considers Closing 1,000 Branches Says:

    […] I wrote about the problems the Postal Service faced back in January, and today we get word that their financial woes are even more severe than previously thought. […]

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