Working for the weekend


A few odds and ends from today’s House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing about the Postal Service’s deteriorating financial condition — the latest in a continuing series (at least the third hearing this year, by my count).

We broke the news in February that the Postal Service wanted permission to switch to 5-day delivery. But there’s been some debate over which day would be cut — Tuesday? Saturday? William Galligan, the Postal Service’s senior vice president for operations, answered that question: it would be Saturday.

I believe the six-day frequency, which is essentially [cutting]the Saturday delivery day, it’s not a question of if but when.

Tuesday is actually a lower-volume mail day than Saturday, but the logistics of ending Tuesday delivery are complicated. Carriers, for example, would have a split Sunday-Tuesday weekend if the Postal Service ended Tuesday delivery; I can’t imagine that would be popular.

But post offices would stay open on Saturdays, Galligan said, because for many customers Saturday is the only day they can get to a post office.

One other item. You might have noticed gas prices creeping up in your neighborhood. In fact, they’re already up 11 percent this month, according to the Energy Department.

This is potentially a big problem for the Postal Service, since each one-cent increase adds about $9 million to the agency’s annual fuel bill. The Postal Service is already doing some massive cost-cutting to deal with a $6 billion deficit. Higher fuel prices could drive that deficit even higher. Galligan again:

Our ability to cost-cut… includes some presumptions on how fuel prices were run for the remainder of the year.

Oh, and still no movement on HR 22, the bill that would give the Postal Service some much-needed (temporary) relief from its future retiree health benefit obligations. The subcommittee was supposed to mark up the bill this morning, but Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., the committee chairman, said he was still waiting on data from the Congressional Budget Office.

Lynch said the subcommittee would mark up the bill shortly after the Memorial Day recess.


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