Local News

Postal Service to end Saturday mail service Aug. 1

By Jennifer Liberto

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering letters and other first-class mail on Saturdays beginning Aug. 5, although packages will continue to be delivered.

It will mark the end of an era for the agency, which started Saturday delivery in 1863.

Tired of waiting for Congress to help, the Postal Service unveiled its plan Wednesday. It is expected to save $2 billion dollars a year, a drop in the bucket compared to the $16 billion the Postal Service reported it lost in 2012.

It’s also unclear at the moment whether the Postal Service has the authority to quit delivering letters on Saturdays. Previously, it has said it needs Congress to change current law to do so.

Technological advances have led to a decline in first-class mail, which most consumers use to stay in touch and pay bills. But the key culprit for the Postal Service’s woes has been a 2006 congressional mandate, under which it has to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees. The USPS has been borrowing billions of dollars from taxpayers to make up for the shortfalls.

The situation turned particularly dire last year — the agency twice defaulted on payments totaling $11 billion, and it exhausted a $15 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.

In the past year, the service has cut hours at thousands of post offices — some are open for only two hours a day. It has also merged some of its plants, which led to a 28,000 drop in its workforce through retirements and departures by employees who couldn’t relocate or take up other postal jobs.

Related: How to build a better post office

Postal officials have been calling on Congress to pass legislation to ease their fiscal pain.

The U.S. Postal Service is, by law, an “independent establishment” of the executive branch. The agency doesn’t normally use tax dollars for operations, except for its $15 billion loan from Treasury. In 2005, the Postal Service had no debt, officials said.

If Congress doesn’t act soon, the Postal Service could come dangerously close to running out of cash next month. A report last year projected that by mid-March, the agency would have about $1 billion in cash — barely enough to keep the agency running for four days.

That prompted U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to announce he was going to his board to accelerate cost-cutting measures. In the meantime, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. have been assuring the agency that they are working together to come up with a resolution.

But Issa and Carper have not shared specific details of when, or how, they plan to achieve that goal. Congressional aides say they’re hopeful it’ll get passed soon.

The American Postal Service Workers Union said the decision only deepens the financial crisis.

“USPS executives cannot save the Postal Service by tearing it apart,” the APSW said in a statement. “The USPS has already begun slashing mail service by closing 13,000 post offices or drastically reducing hours of operation, shutting hundreds of mail processing facilities, and downgrading standards for mail delivery to America’s homes and businesses. The effects are being felt in cities and towns across the country.”

– CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this article.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

VIEW & ADD COMMENTS

16 Comments to “Postal Service to end Saturday mail service Aug. 1”

    ClanSmokeJaguar said:
    February 6, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    About time someone made a sanguine business decision in that outfit. Now scale back the operation to accomodate the reduced flow of letters going through the mail which, of course <gasp>, means firing people…a lot of people.

    Let's not make the USPS another Amtrak.

    Tim gossett said:
    February 6, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    This will cost $2 billion or save the agency $2 billion??

    Dennis Jackson said:
    February 6, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    How in the hell is it going to save money? You still have to have clerks to sort the packages.and the coast of gas.just deliver xpress mail.it just takes one oor two people.plus get rid or all the dead supervisors !

    everyday person said:
    February 6, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    "Tired of waiting for congress to help"? So are we.

    lovely lady said:
    February 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    They are stupid its bad enough jobs are hard to get now days & everything is going up but our pay checks! And it shure the hell will not save money its putting people in worse situations and the crime rate will go up because noone gets paid decent….this is bull!

      ClanSmokeJaguar said:
      February 6, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      So.

      Are you saying the USPS should stay open and do nothing to stop the hemorraging of $$? They should do that just to provide jobs?

      Get real lady! That makes no damned sense at all.

      "Thor" said:
      February 6, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      This is something that should have happened a couple years ago. A skeleton will work the Saturday shift. And to think that a few weeks ago the news ran a spot about the Post Office hiring, yeah right.

        "Thor" said:
        February 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        skeleton crew for the low-informed.

    Ernie said:
    February 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    I guess they will cut the cost of a stamp by 1/6th.

    new2in said:
    February 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    So why are they hiring 400 new carriers in Indiana?

      DJHB317 said:
      February 6, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Bait and switch my friend.

      None said:
      February 8, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      We are very short staff in Indianapolis and have takin in a lot of mail due to branches closing all over the place it’s a process I go in at 9:30 at night don’t get off till 7am it’s really the people behind the scene not knowing how the mail flows

    guest said:
    February 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Good for them, give the mail carriers a break….they're underpaid and overworked.

    anonymous said:
    February 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    They should look at what caused the problem. Overpaying to the government andnow they can’t come up with a plan to help. Cutting Saturday hurts the carriers that depend on their paycheck.

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