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In Cost-Cutting Move, U.S. Postal Service Scraps Most Next-Day Local Letter Delivery

After eliminating some local overnight services, USPS says most mail will be delivered in two days instead

The U.S. Postal Service has eliminated overnight mail delivery of letters, meaning letters dropped off locally — such as at this Storke Road postal facility in Goleta — will arrive two days later, regardless of address. Click to view larger
The U.S. Postal Service has eliminated overnight mail delivery of letters, meaning letters dropped off locally — such as at this Storke Road postal facility in Goleta — will arrive two days later, regardless of address.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Rushing to reach the nearest blue collection mail box by the end of the day, in an effort to send a stamped letter locally by the following day, might no longer make a difference.

To further cut costs, the U.S. Postal Service has changed its first-class mail delivery standards, saddling single-piece letter mail with the bulk of the impact.

The majority of those letters will be delivered in two days instead of one, regardless of whether you’re sending locally or not.

So, the hurrying is moot.

Unless, of course, you’re a business (major mailer) and your first-class mail is presorted at a Postal Service facility, where it’s been dropped off by 8 a.m. Local overnight delivery is possible in that case because presorted mail requires less handling and processing time, according to Don Smeraldi, a Postal Service spokesman for the Pacific Area.

New mail-service standards took effect nationwide in January to little fanfare, the latest in a long line of Postal Service slashes following the rise of electronic correspondence and bill paying.

The decline in mail volume and ballooning Postal Service employee costs had sent annual USPS budget deficits to a record $16 billion in 2012. The Postal Service reported a $5.5 billion loss in 2014.

The delivery changes stem from a 2011 decision to consolidate some processing and distribution facilities because total mail volume has declined over the past decade by more than 56 billion pieces, or 26 percent, according to Postal Service data.

First-class volume has declined by 34.5 billion pieces (35 percent) and single-piece, first-class mail — primarily letters with postage stamps — has declined by 24.4 billion pieces (more than 50 percent).

In 2014, the Postal Service delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail and packages.

Most recent changes affect roughly 14 billion pieces of total volume (9 percent) and up to 16 percent of first-class mail. USPS says average delivery has gone to an average of 2.1 days from 1.8.

Not everyone working with the Postal Service is a fan of the new standards.

Ruth Goldway, who serves as a Postal Regulatory commissioner for the agency that measures how the Postal Service is meeting its delivery standards, told Noozhawk that eliminating more than 100 processing facilities last year — and planning the removal of 80 more in 2015 — isn’t making USPS more efficient.

“By doing that, the mail has to go farther to be sorted,” Goldway said. “There’s less mail in the system because people are using less mail, so they want those processing areas to have more volume. Our concern was the Postal Service has not been very thoughtful.”

She said overnight, one-day delivery has been eliminated everywhere except for larger cities, and Goldway hopes the Postal Service will delay more closures until the commission can fully study impacts from the first wave.

They’re delivering most mail in three days, she said, “and people just have to accept it.”

Smeraldi said the lone local Postal Service facility is the Santa Barbara Processing and Distribution Center on Storke Road in Goleta.

“It isn’t based on the ‘largeness’ of cities,” he said, emphasizing that local stamped first-class mail letter mail is “a very small percentage of our volume.”

On the other hand, Goldway said, USPS is one of the cheapest mail systems in the world and most mail doesn’t need to be sent overnight anymore.

“A lot of bill paying has gone electronic,” she said, but “I don’t think they’ve done any outreach. If consumers feel that this service is important, and they’re missing it, they can complain to their congressman and their senator. They should let other people know.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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