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Students speak on no Saturday mail

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 17:02

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Photo Illustration by Caitlin LaFarlette, Photo Editor

Depending on how an American looks at it, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered both good and bad news about changing its delivery schedule.

The agency that began in 1775 has been in financial trouble for years.  For the past few years, the USPS has wanted to end Saturday delivery to help fix some of the problems.  This will also end a 150-year tradition.

On Feb. 6 Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe announced during a morning news conference the USPS’s new delivery schedule is continuing six days of package delivery but only five days of mail delivery.  
Beginning the week of Aug. 5, the USPS will stop delivering first-class mail of letters, bills, greeting cards and catalogs, and will not collect mail on Saturdays.  The USPS will continue to deliver packages, mail-order medicine, and priority and express mail on Saturdays.  Mail will still be delivered to P.O. boxes on Saturdays, which is important for many businesses.    Post office hours are not going to change and post offices now open on Saturday will remain open on that day.  
Timothy Daley, sophomore history major of Little Rock said, “I do not really see the new delivery schedule as an inconvenience.  As long as you get your mail and know it is coming, it is good.”

The USPS is getting rid of mail delivery on Saturdays to survive.  The USPS had a financial loss of $16 billion at the end of 2012 and of that loss $11 billion was used to pay the Treasury Department to prefund retirement health benefits.  
Since 2008 there has been a decrease in using first-class mail. Package deliveries rose 8.7 percent in the 2012 fiscal year and those kinds of deliveries should grow more in the coming decade.  The USPS has lost $41 billion over the past six years because people shop and pay bills online.  Email and social networks are often used to communicate instead of letters and cards.

With the rise of e-commerce, the USPS can become a successful delivery provider of choice and help American businesses become more prosperous.  The USPS has to make some hard decisions while keeping the cost of mail affordable as much as possible.  The new delivery schedule helps reduce some of the financial pressure.

    Research by the USPS and major news organizations showed 70 percent of Americans support the five-day service because of the USPS’s financial situation. The USPS needs to make $20 billion in cost reductions and revenue increases to close the budget gap.  The new delivery schedule will result in about a $2 billion annual cost reduction and it is a significant way to become more profitable and financially stable. 
Lisa Tolliver-Gaye, media representative for Arkansas post offices said, “I am a postal employee.  I want to see the USPS grow and prosper.  I believe getting rid of mail delivery on Saturdays is a positive step.”

The USPS plans to have 45 million work hours reduced.  The cost reduction will come from Saturday mail delivery, Saturday mail processing and transportation.  
Bryce Shirley freshman biology major of Marion said, “I do not see the new delivery schedule as an inconvenience.  It is going to save a lot of money.  The only inconvenience it is going to be for small companies needing direct order services.”

The USPS will have in-depth operational plans available to all customers in March.  As the delivery schedule change gets closer to August, there will be information in post offices, online, and other places customers visit to make sure they know what changes will be happening.  
The USPS announced in May it was cutting back on operational hours instead of closing 3,700 post offices across the country. Reducing hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from an eight-hour day to much less a day is supposed to save about $500 million annually.  
Congressman Rick Crawford has fought for rural post offices to stay open for residents who do not have an alternative post office within eight miles accessible by public roads.  He proposed the Protect Our Rural Offices Act of 2011.  Crawford was pleased though when the USPS decided not to close rural post offices.  
Crawford is also not in favor of the USPS ending Saturday mail.

 “The choice is either change some of the service or raise prices.  People do not want prices raised.  We will make the changes in service,” Donahoe said.

It is not certain if the USPS can follow through with the new five-day delivery schedule without congressional approval because that is required.  The USPS’s lawyers might have figured a way around that requirement.

Tolliver-Gaye said, “I think the USPS can be saved from all the financial trouble it is in because there is a plan to make service better and viable.”

ASU is one of only four universities in the state with a United States Post Office on campus.  
ASU post office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.  The front counter window is closed on Saturdays but mail is delivered to P.O. boxes on that day.


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