The U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday mail delivery beginning in August, a sign that the long-suffering agency may finally be succumbing to the Internet.
Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said at a news conference Wednesday that moving to a five-day delivery week starting Aug. 5 is a necessary cut because of the Postal Service’s accumulating deficits.
The plan drew immediate criticism — along with some praise — from members of Congress, and the White House pledged to review the decision. But it’s unclear whether the blowback will make much difference. Last year, the Senate passed legislation to prevent the Postal Service from moving to a five-day delivery week for two years — in part, to keep the trusted institution alive in an election year — but the House never acted on it.
“We are simply not in a financial position where we can maintain six days of mail delivery,” said Donahoe. The ease of online bill payments has led to the decline of first-class mail volume since 2008 — a major blow to the institution, he said.
In the past fiscal year, the Postal Service has seen a financial loss of $15.9 billion. Cutting Saturday service will save the Postal Service $2 billion annually, and it needs $20 billion to repay debts.
The financial loss coupled with the service’s loss of 22 percent to 25 percent of its mail volume over the past three years prompted the reduction to a five-day delivery service, said Augustine Ruiz, postal spokesperson for the Sacramento and Bay-Valley district in California.
The rest of the Postal Service’s Saturday operations will continue as normal; post offices and P.O. boxes will remain open and packages will still be delivered.
The service says it has been trying to reduce costs for years, cutting its workforce by more than 193,000 and reducing its cost base by about $15 billion since 2006.