The Green Road post office in northeast Ann Arbor eliminated two delivery routes in March. After an evaluation that included counting every piece of mail handled and every step walked, the thirty-one remaining routes were “squared up” to even out workloads, says Rob Alt, Green Road’s manager of customer service.

“Customers who used to get their mail in the morning may get it in the afternoon if they were on one of the routes eliminated,” says Alt. Carrier assignments in other neigh-borhoods may change, too. Some collection boxes are slated for elimination, and the posted pickup times at many of the remaining collection boxes will change.

Ann Arbor’s mail volume has fallen about 15 percent in the past year, Alt says. Despite the town’s wired reputation, that’s significantly less than the national decline of 22 percent. “Students still get all their packages, and that’s a heavy volume,” Alt explains. Plus, he points out, “Carriers still have to go the house, whether it’s one piece or three pieces.”

Ann Arbor’s other delivery zip codes, 48103, 48104, and 48108, were evaluated last year. No routes were eliminated, but several were made more efficient, says Alt. Even the 48105 cuts were made by attrition—there were no layoffs or forced retirements. “Actually we’re under our complement right now,” says Alt. “We’re in the process of trying to get bodies in here.”

Despite the streamlining, the postal service is projecting a $6 billion deficit in 2010. “The gap between revenue and costs has become a chasm, widening each day,” postal service head John Potter told Congress in January. Potter warned that the next cost-cutting move could be to eliminate Saturday delivery.

Eliminating and consolidating services is one way for the postal service to balance its budget; another is to raise prices. On May 11, the price for a first-class stamp will increase from 42¢ to 44¢. Prices for other mailing services will also increase.