New mail standards will add one to two days
Those late holiday cards may arrive even later this year.
Before new U.S. Postal Service delivery standards took effect on Oct. 1, half the first-class mail sent to addresses in the Highlands took two days to arrive and the other half took a day longer, according to the USPS, whose goal is to deliver mail anywhere in the contiguous U.S. within three days.
Under the new standards, which the service says will increase “reliability, consistency and efficiency” and save the agency $170 million annually, about 30 percent of first-class mail and periodicals such as magazines and newspapers sent to Beacon and Philipstown from outside the area may take one or two days longer to arrive, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
That’s because the agency will transport more mail by truck instead of cargo planes. Nationally, 39 percent of first-class mail is expected to take longer to deliver, with four-day delivery for mail that has to travel between 1,000 to 2,000 miles and five days for greater distances. The longest delays are projected for mail sent to the West Coast, Florida and Texas.
Longer delivery times is one of the linchpins of Delivering for America, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan to reverse years of operating losses for the agency. (The USPS receives no taxpayer money but is funded by postage and fees.) Revenue for domestic mail fell by $21.9 billion between 2007 and 2020, and mail volume by 42 percent, according to the USPS. An increase in package volume during the pandemic shutdown has not offset those losses.
The goals of the plan are to boost revenues by $24 billion and invest $40 billion over 10 years in electric delivery trucks, processing equipment, upgrades to post offices and other capital projects. Absent those and other changes, the USPS is predicting that its losses will reach a combined $160 billion from 2021 to 2030.
An advisory opinion issued in July by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent oversight agency, concluded that the estimated annual cost savings, even if realized, “does not indicate much improvement, if any, to the Postal Service’s current financial condition.”
The longer delivery times follow other changes. Stamps recently rose to 58 cents from 53 cents, and higher rates for priority mail and packages over the holidays took effect Oct. 3. The rates expire on Dec. 26.
The USPS also announced in April that it would resume a delayed plan to move mail-processing operations from its facility in Newburgh to Albany as part of the consolidation of 17 facilities. The moves are expected to be completed by next month.
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