For 20 years Robert Lansberry walked the streets of Pittsburgh, wearing a sandwich board that asked, “Why Can’t Lansberry Get Mail?” Lansberry, a Pittsburgh icon who died in 1999, is not alone anymore.
Beginning the week of Aug. 5, the U.S. Postal Service will stop Saturday mail deliveries to save $2 billion. But unlike Lansberry, neither businesspeople nor householders seem to mind.
“I honestly don’t think it will make a difference,” Dean Pikoulas, owner of Capitol Cleaners in Butler. “I don’t know why they have to wait until August. If it’s going to save the post office $2 billion, let’s do it. Let’s get it done.”
Roger Benscoter of Cranberry Township agreed.
“It’s about time (the post office) cut costs,” he said.
Benscoter said he’d have be more mindful of mailing bill payments, but otherwise he won’t be affected.
The end of Saturday delivery could convince more consumers to pay bills electronically.
“(Saturday) would be one less time for us to receive payments through our lockbox,” said Joe Taylor, general manager of Armstrong’s Keystone Division, who didn’t believe Armstrong would be affected otherwise. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a significant increase in electronic payments,” he said
Debbie Bartley of Valencia already has switched to electronic payments.
Bartley said she just uses the post office to mail Christmas cards and a few packages.
The popularity of electronic payments is part of the reason the Saturday service will be cut.
“Mailing and communications habits have changed,” said Tad Kelley, postal service spokesman for Western Pennsylvania.
Kelley said the postal service has discussed the change for five years. As a result of those talks, packages will continue to be delivered on Saturdays, mail will be delivered to post office boxes, and postal counters that are open now will remain so.
The service cut must still be approved by Congress on a vote scheduled for March 27. But if Rep. Mike Kelly’s stance is any indicator, the change will be approved.
“While certainly not ideal, the U.S. Postal Service is currently losing billions of dollars every year,” said Brad Moore, Kelly’s Erie-based district director. “Consumers simply aren’t using the USPS in the numbers they used to. ... it is probably a necessary step toward financial solvency so the USPS is around for decades to come.”
If the change isn’t approved, the postal service plans to move ahead with the cuts under the authority of the federal code that defines its service, Tad Kelley said.
“We’re not supposed to go broke,” he said.
Otherwise, package delivery is a growing piece of the postal service’s business, but consumers recognize there are options if that is stopped.
“We get most of our packages sent next day mail,” Drew Mathew, co-owner of Mathew Jewelers in Zelienople and Cranberry Township said. “The post office is still delivering next day mail. There’s also UPS and FedEx.”
Jeffrey Mustovic at the Evans City Pharmacy and Gift Shoppe said he didn’t believe the move would drastically affect his business, either, even if package service stopped.
“There’s so many courier services on Saturday for packages, like UPS and FedEx, if we need to send or receive packages. It’s really not a big deal for me.”
Neither Westinghouse Electric in Cranberry nor Penn United Technologies in Jefferson Township processes mail on weekends.
“We asked them to stop delivering mail on Saturdays years ago because we didn’t want it sitting in the box over the weekend,” said Dave Rengel, director of government affairs for Penn United. “I don’t know if we ever had mail delivered on Saturdays.”
Only John Work, of Cranberry Township was distressed, reminiscent of Lansberry.
“It ought to be privatized. The government can’t do anything right,” he said, citing service inefficiencies and poor management he said have caused all of its current financial problems.
Still, he said he would not be affected by the cut.