U.S. Postal Service Seeks to Slow Mail Delivery

The U.S. Postal Service, which is trying to cut $20 billion in operating costs by 2015, is seeking to slow mail delivery to help save $2.1 billion a year.

The agency is asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to let it relax delivery standards for first-class mail, which includes letters and bills, David Williams, vice president of network operations, said today at a news conference in Washington. Ending next-day mail delivery would reduce the number of mail-processing plants the service needs, he said.

The Postal Service said in September it was considering loosening delivery standards and closing 252, or more than half, of its mail-processing plants. The agency said last month it predicts a $14.1 billion loss in 2012 as mail volume continues to drop.

The processing plants sort mail overnight for next-day delivery, meaning that “most of the time, those machines are sitting idle,” Williams said. “Our network is simply too big to handle the revenues coming in today and, more importantly, way too big for what we project in the future.”

The Postal Service has a standard for the 48 states of the continental U.S. of delivering mail placed in its blue drop boxes within one to three days. The service, which doesn’t guarantee first-class mail delivery within a certain period of time, is asking for permission to change the standard to two to three days.

The service, which is seeking permission from Congress to fire workers, close post offices more easily and end Saturday mail delivery, has closed 26 mail processing plants since September and now has 461, Williams said.

That’s a 32 percent decrease from 2006 when the service had 673 mail processing facilities. First-class mail volume dropped 27 percent during that time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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