Evansville, Ind. — The Postal Service has decided to keep on delivering mail on Saturdays, just as it has done since the Civil War.
The postal Board of Governors, meeting in Evansville, decided Tuesday that the money saved by going to a five-day delivery schedule would not be worth the public outcry.
The idea had drawn heavy criticism from Congress and the mailing industry, even though the Postal Service is facing losses that could approach $2 billion this fiscal year.
Members of the public welcomed the decision.
"A lot of deadlines have to be met, and mail is still one of the foremost ways of communicating," lawyer Sonny Reisz said Tuesday outside the post office. "We still haven't become a paperless society."
Robert F. Rider, chairman of the postal Board of Governors, declined to say how much would have been saved by canceling Saturday service.
He said the reaction to the idea was not unexpected. But he added: "When you're looking at a loss this year like we're looking at, you're not being responsible if you don't look at all the alternatives."
Neal Denton of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, a group representing charities and other fund-raising organizations, said he does not believe the Postal Service ever intended to roll back to five-day delivery.
"What they intended to do they succeeded in doing, and that is to capture the attention of the American public and Congress to win some flexibility in postal reform," Denton said.
The Postal Service has been seeking changes in the law under which it operates, saying more flexibility is needed to change prices to compete and introduce new services.
Robert E. McLean, director of the Virginia-based Mailers Council, a coalition of mailing businesses, said reducing the number of postal workers, consolidating facilities and improving technology would be a more effective way to save money.
Rider said that to ease losses caused by the shrinking economy and sharp increases in the price of gasoline, the Postal Service has halted most construction and made other cuts.