- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Postal Service has decided to continue delivering mail six days a week.

Facing losses that could approach $2 billion this fiscal year, the agency had been considering cutting back to five days, eliminating Saturday deliveries.

But, after a preliminary study, the postal Board of Governors decided to drop the plan.

"After reviewing management's primary findings, examining five-day delivery, the board decided to continue with existing six-day delivery service," Robert F. Rider, board chairman, said at the group's meeting in Evansville, Ind., today.

The threat of a cutback had drawn heavy criticism from Congress, the mailing industry and the public.

One member of Congress had called the plan a mistake that could destroy the agency.

"This is one of the most self-defeating proposals I've heard in my life," Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., said at a hearing in April. "If there's one thing the Postal Service could do that would guarantee its demise, it's eliminate service on Saturday."

The agency has halted most construction and made other cuts to ease the losses caused by the shrinking economy and the sharp increases in the cost of gasoline.

Rep. Constance Morella, R-Md., argued that "reducing the number of delivery days will have a devastating impact on our economy."

Sam Parmelee, a vice president of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, said reduced service could cause other problems.

"The day you don't deliver mail it stacks up," said Parmelee, whose group represents about 100,000 rural and suburban carriers. "Then you've got this huge volume of mail that some carriers won't be able to fit in their vehicles when they go out on Monday."

Robert McLean, director of the Virginia-based Mailers Council, a coalition of mailing businesses, said the agency must "find ways of managing within its current legislative framework to reduce expenses."

The Postal Service receives no taxpayer money for its operations. It remains a government agency and operates under laws set by Congress.

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