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USPS: Halt of Saturday mail won't affect Monday deliveries

The U.S. Postal Service is slated to end its Saturday mail delivery in August, but service officials said there should be no problem handling the extra volume on Mondays.

The sharp reduction in first-class mail means there are plenty of carriers and vehicles to handle the extra business, said Don Smeraldi, Postal Service manager of corporate affairs for the Pacific area,

“We don’t believe this will be problem at all. We are over capacity in terms of equipment and employees to handle this,” Smeraldi said.

First-class mail volume declined by about 25 percent from 2006 through last year and continues to drop.

Smeraldi said it also helps that the Postal Service recently reached a new contract with the National Association of Letter Carriers union, providing a degree of certainty it didn’t have before the accord was signed.

The San Diego District, which includes San Bernardino and Palm Springs areas, has 3,828 city carriers and 541 rural carriers for a total of 4,369. San Diego County itself has roughly 2,600 full-time carriers.

Not all the mail volume has declined during the six-year period. Smeraldi said package volume has increased by 14 percent nationally since 2010.

A U.S. Postal Service employee pushes a cart full of mail from a postal delivery truck in New York on Nov. 15, 2012. The U.S. Postal Service is slated to end its Saturday mail delivery in August, but service officials said there should be no problem handling the extra volume on Mondays. Photo: Victor Blue/Bloomberg News

Because of that, the Postal Service has elected to keep package delivery at six days per week.

Smeraldi said, however, that the reduction in first-class mail volume, coupled with $5.5 billion in pension obligations and a $15.9 billion loss in the last fiscal year, has meant the service had to do something to keep it afloat.

“We need to restructure our debt over a 10-year period,” Smeraldi said.

Cutting out Saturday delivery, with a projected $2 billion annual savings, will help, but the service will require more cost-cutting measures if it is to be fiscally viable.

The new emphasis on packages is part of this strategy.

“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,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, in a statement.

“Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform,” Donahoe added. “As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services -- especially due to the rise of e-commerce -- we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America’s businesses.”

Mail addressed to post office boxes will continue to be delivered on Saturdays, and post offices now open on Saturdays will remain that way.

The Postal Service said by making the announcement now, more than six months in advance, gives residential and business customers time to plan and adjust.

Given the ongoing financial challenges, the Postal Service Board of Governors last month directed management to accelerate the restructuring of operations in order to strengthen its finances.

The Postal Service is currently implementing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations.

Since 2006, the Postal Service has reduced its annual cost base by approximately $15 billion, reduced the size of its career work force by 193,000 or 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.

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