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Postal Service changing delivery times for larger Utah cities

The U.S. Postal Service is consolidating letter carrier routes in many of Utah's larger cities and some households may see their daily delivery time change.

According to Ron Hubrich, consumer affairs manager for the Salt Lake District of the U.S. Postal Service, the consolidation is due to a rapid decrease in the amount of mail being delivered each day.

"This is a heads up," he said, that your postal route might have already been altered and so the time of your mail delivery might have changed or will change soon.

Decreasing Utah mail volume mirrors a nationwide trend, and Hubrich said the amount of Utah mail being delivered each day is down 10 to 15 percent over a year ago. As a result, the Post Office is doing away with some routes and consolidating the remaining ones. In Utah, about 60 routes have been eliminated so far this year.

"No one has lost their job," Hubrich stressed, saying all the postal route cuts have been done by attrition. Last year, some "pivoting" routes were established on a temporary basis, until permanent route changes could be made.

He expects most of the changes to be in place by the end of August, but some may take a few weeks longer.

He said the changes will result in more consistent deliveries. He said these route consolidations only include Utah's larger cities, from Logan to St. George. The rural routes in smaller towns operate differently but also strive for efficiency.

He said some people are particular about when their mail is delivered, including some who like morning delivery, but "unfortunately, we can't deliver all the mail in the morning."

He said the routes are arranged in the most efficient pattern possible, and it would not be cost effective to even rotate route structure, so that afternoon and morning delivery times were transposed every so often.

Hubrich said the U.S. Postal Service is deaing with a paradox.

"We get more homes to deliver to as population increases, but less overall mail to deliver," he said.

Currently, the average Utah postal route delivers mail to between 500-700 households each day.

In the year 2000, the average Utah household received 5.9 piece of mail each day. Today, that average has dropped to 4.3 pieces.

The U.S. Postal Service receives no U.S. tax dollars and must be self-supporting. The Postal Service lost $2.4 billion in its last quarter, which ended June 30. Hubrich said customer service is paramount, but the Postal Service is also studying five-days-a-week delivery, instead of six days, as a future option to cut costs. He said if that happens, it would probably mean no mail delivery on Saturday for most customers.

Ongoing electronic diversion and the widespread economic recession are continuing to reduce mail volume.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com