STAMPED OUT Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery in August
BY JEFF HAWKES, Staff Writer
The Postal Service expects to save $2 billion when it ends Saturday mail delivery in August, a change Lancastrians say they can live with.
"They're going to save money," said Kate Bozochovic, 75, of Millersville. "Five days a week is enough, with all the junk you get."
"Now that you can do everything through email or on the computer, it's just not necessary anymore, I guess," said Jamie Lovern, 35, of East Hempfield Township.
Package deliveries will continue six days a week, and post offices now open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays. Mail also will be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays.
Elimination of most Saturday deliveries is the latest of service contractions the Postal Service has undertaken to avert bankruptcy. Since 2006, the Postal Service has cut costs by $15 billion a year by eliminating 193,000 positions and consolidating more than 200 mail processing locations. Early last year, for example, some mail-processing jobs were transferred from Lancaster to Harrisburg, a change that also resulted in the end of the Lancaster postmark.
The end of Saturday mail delivery will have some impact on Ephrata-based Lancaster Farming, which has more than 58,000 subscribers in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond who since 1955 have expected Saturday delivery of the publication.
"The whole business model is predicated on farmers getting it on Saturday" and having the weekend to read the ads and plan purchases, assistant general manager Pete Lindquist said. Monday delivery would be too late.
Anticipating that Saturday mail delivery would end someday, Lancaster Farming recently began contracting with daily newspapers in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Baltimore and beyond for Saturday delivery, general manager Bill Burgess said. As a result, only about 40 percent of deliveries are now through the mail.
At Lancaster Newspapers, circulation director Keith Kirchner said the end of Saturday mail delivery will affect only a couple hundred daily newspaper subscribers in Lancaster County. Where possible, those subscribers will be assigned to newspaper delivery routes, he said.
How the end of Saturday delivery will affect local postal jobs was not announced Wednesday.
"We are currently working to define the employee impact and will be meeting with our unions and management associations," said Ray V. Daiutolo Sr., Postal Service spokesman, noting that reduction through attrition and reassignment will be on the table.
"We have a proven track record of working with affected employees" and avoiding major layoffs, Daiutolo said.
The agency in November reported a record loss of $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments.
"Our financial condition is urgent," Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said at a press conference Wednesday in Washington. An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. One growth area has been package deliveries, which are up 14 percent since 2010, officials say.
Surveys indicate that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs, the agency said. Interviews with Lancaster County residents found general support as well.
"You can't be a burden on taxpayers," Frank Raffucci, 48, of Centerville, said. "That's my position."
"It really doesn't affect me, but my wife's a little upset about it," said Raymond Greiner, 72, of Lancaster city. "I think we're people of habit."
"Unless I was expecting something really important" in the mail, said Anthony Harp, 32, of Lancaster, "it's not a big deal to me."
Leigh Moss, 30, of Lancaster, said, "It's sad. I look forward to the mail on Saturday."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.