Globe Editorial

Postal woes: Drop Saturday delivery

March 4, 2010

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Most people send urgent correspondence via email or special-delivery services. That’s one reason why it makes sense for the United States Postal Service to stop Saturday home delivery.

The Postal Service proposed Tuesday that Congress enact a law allowing it to curb its Saturday services to rein in its huge deficit and avert rate hikes. Under the proposal, which would accompany other cost-cutting measures, post offices would still be open on Saturdays but carriers would no longer make weekend stops at mailboxes around the country.

Some people will certainly bemoan what they see as the diminishment of the country’s snail mail tradition, but the decline has long been underway. By last year, the number of pieces delivered by US postal workers had fallen 36 billion pieces below what it was in 2006, from 213 billion in 2006 to 177 billion, and it’s predicted to drop by another 27 billion pieces per year by 2020. The Postal Service lost $3.8 billion in 2009, and expects to lose hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade without drastic changes. Congress should heed the postmaster general’s proposal and pass legislation to allow the service to shift to five-day delivery. People who still send and receive magazines, catalogs, Christmas cards, and wedding invitations should welcome the end of Saturday delivery, since it will likely save them from postage rate hikes that would make mailing more expensive.

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