From here to there and there to here, the Postal Service now will go in low gear.
Friday marks the debut of the United States Postal Service’s new delivery standards, under which the target for delivering first-class mail goes from three days or less to five days or less, according to CBS News.
The Postal Service says the plan is essential to avoid a projected $160 billion deficit over the next 10 years.
Slowing the delivery time is part of a list of proposals that includes increases in the costs to mail letters and packages, with the latest hike having gone into effect in August (from 55 cents to 58 cents to mail a first-class letter).
“These changes would position us to leverage more cost-effective means to transport First-Class packages via ground rather than using costly air transportation, which is also less reliable due to weather, flight traffic, availability constraints, competition for space, and the added hand-offs involved,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said, according to CNN.
She said that within what the Postal Service has determined is a local area, the standard delivery time for a letter or other first-class mail will remain at two days.
Frum said that overall, delivery time for about 60 percent of postal traffic will not be impacted.
Starting today US Postal Service lengthens the time to deliver mail, a disturbingly familiar repeat of a dismal policy also instituted in 2014. Mail delivery now longer than in the 1970s. Our take below @PostCom2 @jacobbogage @jheckmanWFED @NonProfitMailer https://t.co/mWNNOiFGtY pic.twitter.com/WEoxlIufWm
— Lexington Logistics (@lex_logistics) October 1, 2021
Paul Steidler, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and a Postal Service expert, told CBS News the “disastrous” plan “means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s.”
The impact of the change will hit some areas harder than others.
“It’s the least fortunate who will be hurt hardest by this,” he said. “Everything in American society is getting faster, it seems, except for the mail delivery — which is now going to get slower.”
In assessing the impact of the proposed changes, The Washington Post said they “would disproportionately affect states west of the Rocky Mountains and the country’s mainland extremities, including large swaths of southern Texas and Florida.”
“All told, at least a third of the mail in 27 states will arrive more slowly under the new service standards,” the Post reported.
Before 1950, a first-class letter posted in the morning from New York, Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles usually arrived in Chicago the next morning. After cuts made in 1950 it took a second day. Under the USPS 10-year plan LA to Chicago will take 5 days. https://t.co/EHwW00jRrL pic.twitter.com/OyGljrwFlN
— Save the Post Office (@savethepo) July 15, 2021
Steidler said the change will mean, in the long run, that the mail is further marginalized than it already is.
“When you reduce standards, you perpetuate a vicious downward cycle,” he told CBS News. “You tell people you can take your time delivering it. It causes people to lose confidence in the mail.”
Christopher Shaw, author of the forthcoming book “First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy and the Corporate Threat,” shared a similar bottom line.
“Reducing service will only discourage use of the U.S. Mail, which is not a formula for long-term financial health and stability,” he said.
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