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Kai Ryssdal: The Post Office delivered an announcement today that really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The U.S. Postal Service formally proposed cutting back mail delivery to just five days a week. If regulators and Congress approve, getting rid of Saturday deliveries will save as much as $3 billion a year.
Big users of the mails, mainly junk mailers, are reluctantly on-board, as our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.
JOHN DIMSDALE: Thanks largely to the Internet, the volume of paper mail has shrunk by nearly a quarter since 2006. And as a result, the mail service has lost a lot of money. And Postal Vice President Sam Pulcrano says in the next decade it could lose another $238 billion.
SAM PULCRANO: One of the opportunities to significantly close that gap is to convert from six-day to five-day delivery.
The Mailers’ Council represents bulk users of the post office. They make up 70 percent of the overall volume.
Chairman Jim O’Brien says they’ve been resigned to a Saturday cutback for a long time.
JIM O’BRIEN: As volume declines you have less and less money to justify your network. So the way that you improve your revenue per stop is to reduce delivery days.
Still, O’Brien says eliminating Saturday deliveries will force hundreds of newspapers, magazines and catalogs to shift their production schedules. At a Senate hearing last week, Postmaster General John Potter admitted the cutbacks could send bulk users looking for other delivery services.
JOHN POTTER: We have to keep our price competitive. And so, yes, something will be lost as a result of moving from six to five-day delivery. But I look at what’s being protected. What’s being protected is the 150 billion pieces of mail that we anticipate being in the system.
The delivery cuts would mean layoffs for 50,000 part-time letter carriers. If Congress approves the plan, the Postmaster General says there’ll be a six month transition period before Saturday mail deliveries go the way of the Pony Express.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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