U.S. Postal chief predicts three days of service a week

July 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Saturday mail delivery has to go, and service may eventually drop to three days a week, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says.

The U.S. Postal Service is projected to lose $8.3 billion this year, and, "On Sept. 30, I won't be able to pay my bills," Donahoe told USA Today.

On that date, a $5.5 billion payment is due to cover future retirees' health benefits.

Congress mandated six-day delivery in 1983, but Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced legislation to allow the end of Saturday mail.

Donahoe estimates that step would save $3.1 billion annually and said it has "a much better chance today than a year ago. I don't know if I'd say 'likely' yet."

Looking ahead, he said, "At some point, we'll have to move to three" days a week, maybe in 15 years.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., says Saturday delivery is vital to rural areas.

"It's important to have delivery on Saturday in places like Montana to get things like medicine and things they need," he said.

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