U.S. Postal Service officials are expected to announce today that the Postal Service will stop delivering first-class mail on Saturdays in order to save an estimated $2 billion annually.
Packages, express mail and priority mail would still get dropped off on the weekend. Mail would be delivered to homes and businesses Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays, and post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open.
The Postal Service has lobbied for the elimination of Saturday delivery in the past, but Congress has blocked the move. The Postal Service, an independent agency that does not receive tax dollars to support operations, is still subject to congressional control.
Postal Service representatives say market research shows that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to weekday only delivery as a way to reduce costs.
“The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahue Donahoe said in a statement prepared for today’s announcement. “We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.”
The Postal Service is expected to make the switch to weekday mail delivery in August.
“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Donahoe said in the statement. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt(NJ-12) issued a statement this afternoon saying the Postal Service should continue Saturday delivery.
“For more than 200 years, the U.S. Postal Service has done far more than sell stamps and deliver letters. It has built communities, united citizens, and bound together our vast and diverse country,” Holt said. “I am deeply concerned that, if the Postal Service were to follow through on this plan to slash services in the pursuit of short-term financial gain, it would sacrifice its most crucial long-term competitive edge: its renowned and respected status as a core American institution.”
He said the USPS is not just another delivery service. “Only the USPS goes, in effect, every day to every address, rich or poor, rural or urban, commercial or residential,” he said.
Holt is a cosponsor of House of Representatives resolution that calls on the U.S. Postal Service to maintain a six-day delivery schedule. He has not laid out any alternative suggestions for measures to put the Postal Service on firm financial footing.
Last year the Postal Service lost a record $16 billion. About $11 billion of the loss was because of mandatory costs for retiree health benefits. The health payments are a requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that the post office set aside $55 billion to cover future medical costs for retirees.
The Postal Service is also restructuring it retail, processing and delivery operations, and wants to move the post office to a smaller location as part of the restructuring.
Postal Service Officials announced in 2011 their intention to sell the 11,000-square-foot post office on Palmer Square. The building is listed on the state and national registers of historic places, and the Postal Service must first complete the review process with the state’s Historic Preservation Office.
The preservation office, which is under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has informed the Postal Service that a historic preservation easement should be put on the building.
If the building is sold, the Postal Service has promised to open another retail location in the center of town. A Princeton Shopping Center merchant is also seeking to open a post office retail operation in a store at the shopping center. Previously, a book store that was located in the shopping center provided the Postal Service with retail space.