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Seen At 11: Cash-Strapped U.S. Postal Service Turns To Deliveries After Dark

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- You may have noticed someone lurking around your street after normal business hours. No need for alarm. It's just your postal carrier.

The U.S. Postal Service is delivering mail after dark as a way to cut down on its debt, reports CBS 2's Maurice Dubois.

It's something most people aren't used to seeing, but it could soon be a common sight all over the area.

"The morale? Let's see, I started in '85 … The morale ... the morale is the lowest I've ever seen it," one postal worker said.

These are hard times for the USPS and its carriers -- like one who wanted to talk to CBS 2 about the changes but didn't want to show his face because he is afraid of losing his job.

"We have no choice. They're making cuts," one night mailman said.

In the last few years, the Postal Service has consolidated 500 routes in the Tri-State Area. The Post Office forces have seen their already long routes grow even longer, forcing them to work into the night under what some say are dangerous conditions.

"It's crazy because you can't see the mail. It's pitch black. You can't see the mail from the street lights. You can't see where your walking you could hurt yourself, trip like that," one postal worker said.

Larry Cirelli said he's worries about what's next.

"It's quite dangerous. You don't want to be at the wrong spot at the wrong time and ring the wrong doorbell," Cirelli said.

Money is still a big problem for the Postal Service and it may require drastic measures to stay in business. Next year will already see a hike in the price of stamps, but that's not all. The federal government may close 677 post offices nationwide, privatize some services and even eliminate Saturday deliveries, which has many people concerned about life-saving medication and other important deliveries.

"I don't understand why people have to suffer and they will suffer. They could die. It's that serious," Cirelli said.

Mail carriers in other cities like Los Angeles, where carriers are working late into the night, worry things will get worse.

"We are belittled, we are intimidated. We are yelled at for not doing it quicker," one carrier said.

USPS spokesman Richard Mahr insists the nighttime mail delivery is temporary because of the holiday rush.

"So, yes, we do have to adjust those routes and get them back to eight hours, but we can't do that until after the holiday ends and the volume levels off," Mahr said.

Still, others worry that nighttime delivery is here to stay -- holiday or not.

"There's long hours and we just have to do it. There's work to be done and we just have to do it," one carrier said.

Union officials contend that proposed cuts will only further weaken the Postal Service. Under federal law, the USPS cannot declare bankruptcy.

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