The main Post Office downtown was busy Wednesday morning, with a line of people waiting to transact business at the counter. But most said they understood, and support, the decision by the U.S. Postal Service to stop Saturday mail deliveries that was announced that day.
To save an estimated $2 billion, the financially struggling Postal Service has decided to delivering mail on Saturdays, but continue to deliver packages six days a week.
"I'm never home on the weekends anyway," said Chrissy Theriault. "Monday's are fine; nobody does anything on Saturday anyway. It's a good decision."
The Saturday mail cutback is expected to begin in August, and any post office now open Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.
"I respect it," said Ilse Martin, adding that the move is important to keeping postal rates affordable for the masses. "We have options at the higher end," Martin said, as she collected mail from her post office box.
The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points -- package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet outlets.
Under the new plan, mail would still be delivered to post office boxes Saturdays.
Betty Sayles also agreed that if halting mail delivery on Saturdays is necessary to keep the Postal Service in operation, then that's what should be done. But, she added, that it would not be a positive sign if postal officials shut down all services on Saturdays. "Saturday is the day for the things you can't accomplish during the week," she said.
"So, the reality of it is, this won't affect us," she said. "I empathize with the loss of jobs -- and right, wrong or indifferent -- they're not looking at a balanced budget.
"It's certainly the least painful thing they could do in terms of an impact on the public. But sending letters, I hope it isn't a disappearing art," she said.
Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages -- and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but is subject to congressional control.
It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval.
But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.
Material prepared for Wednesday announcement's by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.