Letter carrier Jong Kwon loads his truck at the Syosset...

Letter carrier Jong Kwon loads his truck at the Syosset Post Ofice with mail for delivery during busy time before Christmas on Dec. 19, 2019. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Cue the snail mail jokes.

The Postal Service is slowing mail times and — at least temporarily — increasing prices. Here are some questions and answers about the changes.

What’s changing and when?

Starting on Friday, "new service standards" for periodicals and first-class mail are going into effect. That means it will take longer for certain kinds of mail — about 40% of first class and 7% of periodicals — to get across the country and travel other long distances. It will take longest to get mail traveling 1,908 or more miles — with an expected delivery time of more than 41 hours, says a Postal Service fact sheet. (The current delivery standard for mail within the contiguous United States with a drive time greater than 6 hours is three days or less.)

Why is the Postal Service slowing delivery times?

It’s meant to be a cost-saving move. Under Louis DeJoy, who was appointed postmaster general by President Donald Trump and remains on the job, priorities have shifted — toward parcel delivery, a growing market, and away from first-class mail, which has been used less frequently due to technology like online billing and other transactions.

"These changes would position us to leverage more cost-effective means to transport first-class packages via ground rather than using costly air transportation, which is also less reliable due to weather, flight traffic, availability constraints, competition for space, and the added handoffs involved," Postal Service spokeswoman Kim Frum told CNN.

The plan is called "Delivering for America," described in a Postal Service news release as a "10-year plan for financial sustainability and service excellence."

What isn’t changing?

The Postal Service says that single-piece first-class mail sent within the same region — "within a 3-hour drive between originating and destinating processing facility" — will continue to be expected to be delivered in two days, according to a Postal Service fact sheet. But packages sent first class will be subject to the newer — and slower — standard, National Public Radio reported.

Are prices going up as well?

Yes, at least temporarily. Between Sunday and Dec. 26, all "commercial and retail domestic packages" prices will rise for the holiday season, NPR reported.

Didn't the cost of postage just go up?

Yes, a first-class stamp rose on Aug. 29 to 58 cents from 55 cents, the postcard rate rose to 40 cents from 36 cents, among other changes.

What has service been like on Long Island in advance of the change?

Slower.

Newsday reported in June that nearly every category of mail — first class, packages, periodicals — is taking longer to reach Long Island’s 215 or so ZIP codes than before the pandemic. For example, in 2020, single-piece mail sent via first class got to destinations in two days 91.6% of the time. But based on 2021 statistics, the same category met the standard just 83.8% of the time. (The Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General has said the target is 87.8%.) Service has been slower for periodicals, too: 87.1% vs. 75%. Ditto the on-time rate for packages: 84.9% vs 73.3%.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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