The U.S. Postal Service took the first official step Wednesday toward ending Saturday mail delivery.
Under the plan, which still must pass through several more bureaucratic hurdles before taking effect, mail would be delivered only Monday through Friday.
The service cuts would eliminate Saturday street delivery and post office mailbox collections, but keep Express Mail service and post offices now open on Saturdays.
Current federal law requires mail to be delivered six days a week, so the plan would need to be approved by Congress.
A half dozen customers interviewed Wednesday at the Wheatley Heights post office in Suffolk County roughly mirrored a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, which found that most Americans approve of cutting the delivery week to preserve the agency.
Linda Levine, 62, of Melville, said she recognized the financial dire straits the Postal Service has found itself.
"If it's saving money in these hard times, I think we all have to help, and that includes the post office," Levine said.
Of Saturday mail service, Levine said: "Is it a constitutional right? I don't think so."
Yesterday's action by the Postal Service's board of governors now allows the service to request a review opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission. This step is legally required when the Postal Service proposes significant changes.
The U.S. Postal Service delivers nearly half of the world's mail. It reported a $3.8-billion net loss for the fiscal year 2009.
Buffeted by competition from FedEx, United Parcel Service and the increased use of e-mail, the Postal Service suffered a 12.7 percent drop in fiscal 2009's mail volume - more than twice any of the agency's previous declines.
To staunch the losses, the Postal Service also hopes to cut overtime and 30,000 jobs and raise prices.
One local resident interviewed, Vivian Robinson, 63, from Wyandanch, said that the Postal Service's cost-cutting move would itself pose an economic burden to some people.
"We need Saturday delivery. People get checks, letters from loved ones and incarcerated people," she said. "It would be a hardship."
With wire services