Postal Service considers dropping Saturday delivery

         

MATT ROURKE/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Kevin Pownall delivers mail in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The number of items handled by the post office fell from 213 billion in 2006 to 177 billion last year.

WASHINGTON

The post office is renewing its drive to drop Saturday delivery — and plans a rate increase — in an effort to fend off a projected $7 billion loss this year.

Without drastic action, the agency could face a cumulative loss of $238 billion over 10 years, Postmaster General John Potter said in releasing a series of consultant reports on agency operations and its outlook.

“The projections going forward are not bright,” Potter told reporters in a briefing. But, he added, “All is not lost. We can right this ship.”

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate subcommittee with oversight authority over the Postal Service, called on Congress to give the post office the flexibility to deal with its future.

Frederic V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, urged Congress to provide the post office with “financial breathing room,” but he opposed eliminating one day of delivery.

As Americans turn more and more from paper to electronic communications, the number of items handled by the post office fell from 213 billion in 2006 to 177 billion in 2009. Volume is expected to shrink to 150 billion by 2020.

At the same time the type of material sent is shifting from first-class mail to the less-lucrative standard mail, such as advertising.

And as people set up new homes and businesses, the number of places mail must be delivered is constantly increasing.

The agency has asked Congress for permission to reduce delivery days and has previously discussed the need for other changes such as closing some offices.

Cutting back Saturday home delivery, however, does not mean post offices would close that day.

There seemed to be concern on the part of Congress that officials had not looked at all possible options, Potter said.

Potter said he would like to see mail delivery cut to five days a week starting next year.

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID – The Associated Press

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