Saturday deliveries could end

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

With post offices across Alabama being up for review in possible closure, the offices that remain open may have to look at cutting their delivery days to five-days-a-week instead of six.

According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama said Monday the U.S. Postal Service should be allowed to reduce mail delivery to five-days-a-week to help cut its massive losses. In his economic growth and debt reduction plan unveiled Monday, Obama endorsed the idea of dropping one day of mail delivery — expected to be Saturday, and urged other changes in postal operations.

Losing $8.5 billion last year and losing more than 100,000 workers, the Postal Service is expected to cut more jobs in order to reduce costs and to keep operating.

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Many believe the president’s recommendations are helpful solutions to the U.S. Postal Service’s financial crisis.

“I have been saying for some time now that Congress and the administration need to come together on a plan that can save the Postal Service and protect more than 7 million jobs that rely on it,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) said in a statement.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said the Postal Service is looking forward to reviewing the president’s plan in more detail.

“We are continuing to work with the White House and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on specific proposals that involve the Postal Service,” Donahoe said.

Annual mail volume, Donahoe said, has also declined by more than 43 million pieces in the last five years and is continuing to decline. Total First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece First-Class Mail, or letters bearing postage stamps, has declined by 36 percent.

Many local, postal customers have mixed feelings about the possible change in services

“It’s not a good idea,” said Selma resident Juanita Thrash. “Everybody’s not able to get to the post office Monday through Friday,” Thrash said. “Some people can only get here on Saturdays. It’s crippling the economy and the people. It’s not helping.”

Yet some are indifferent to the possible changes, believing it’s one more thing the American people must deal with.

“It don’t make no difference because I don’t receive mail or send anything off on Saturdays,” said Selma resident Jimmy Williams. “Through the week is fine.”

Retired Selma Post Office worker Earle Ashe doesn’t believe the change will affect many.

“With all the communication — email and text … I don’t think nowadays it will have much effect on anybody,” Ashe said. “Most people don’t send personal letters or cards anymore. People really won’t notice it (the change).”

Postal Service Communications Programs specialist for Alabama Debra Fetterly said the Postal Service will save in the years to come with the elimination of one-day delivery.

“There is no one single solution or quick fix to the Postal Service’s financial situation,” Fetterly said. “With the decline in mail volume, eliminating one day of delivery is one of the greatest potential savings for the Postal Service during the next decade. We also need to continue to modernize customer access by providing our services in locations where our customers already shop like grocery stores and pharmacies.”

And with mail volumes projected to plummet 37 percent through 2020, Fetterly said it would be impossible for the Postal Service to continue to absorb current delivery costs. Fetterly said if the Postal Service changes its delivery frequencies, the change will not happen until six months after the effective date.

Fetterly said the following would happen if the Postal Service decides to use the five-day delivery system with Congress’ permission: Post offices open on Saturday would remain open on Saturday, post offices boxes would continue to receive mail on Saturday, no mail delivery would be made on Saturday to street addresses, except for Express Mail Service, Remittance mail addressed to P.O. Boxes would continue to be delivered and mail would not be picked up from the blue mail collection boxes on Saturday.
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