The nation's Postmaster General has announced that Saturday delivery of mail will end in early August. The Postal Service, however, will continue delivering packages six days a week.
The problem for the Postal Service is this: more and more communication, nowadays, is done electronically.
"We get almost everything, like the e-vites, even sometimes wedding invitations, come through the Internet," said Vana Babu, a resident of Chicago who is visiting Washington, D.C. this week. "So the post office [loses money] because of that."
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told reporters in Washington that first class mail has declined by 20 percent in just the past two years. And Congress has required the Postal Service to pre-fund retirement benefits for its employees. No other organization has to do this.
The Postmaster General says the federally-chartered company is bleeding cash.
"A typical large organization would have either cash on hand or quick borrowing ability [for] two months' worth of cash to cover their operating costs," explained Donahoe. "In October ... the Postal Service had less than four days of cash on hand. That's a very scary situation."
The Postmaster General says in six months, his agency will scale back residential delivery of mail from six days a week to five days a week. Packages, however, will continue to be delivered Monday through Saturday. The Postal Service's package business is growing -- ironically because of orders placed over the Internet.
Those post offices which are now open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays. And people who rent boxes in post offices will get mail delivered to those boxes on Saturdays. When it comes to the pickup of mail in neighborhood boxes, however, there will be no Saturday service.
Citing a series of polls done in the last couple of years, postal officials claim there is broad public support for the Saturday cutback.
"I think five days a week is perfectly fine," Bobby Coffey of Washington D.C. told us.
Abram Boni, also of Washington D.C., agreed: "I can wait an extra day for the junk -- it's mostly trash, the mail that I have to throw out anyway."
At least one customer we encountered worried about rural residents.
"For [rural residents], mail is almost their whole society ... and I think the rural Congressman are going to have a lot to say," Joe Masi told us.
In the past, Congress has mandated minimum levels of service for the Postal Service, including Saturday delivery. The question now is: will Congress step back and let postal managers make their own decisions about levels of service.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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