The U.S. Postal Service is proposing to drastically reduce the hours of operation at small-town post offices, including more than 40 in Washington and Greene counties, to reduce costs and streamline its outdated business model.
As part of a two-year study launched in September, the service is recommending that small post offices from Scenery Hill in Washington County to Wind Ridge in Greene County have their counter hours cut from eight to four a day. In some cases, postal customers will only have two hours at their local branches to conduct business with a postal employee.
“I realize the post offices are in bad shape,” said Robert Taylor, a supervisor in North Bethlehem Township, which is home to the Scenery Hill post office.
“Even governments now want to do everything electronically,” Taylor said. “It’s almost going to be impossible for the post office to stay in the black. I don’t necessarily like it.”
The postmaster general initially proposed closing as many as 13 of the post offices in this area, along with thousands of others across the country, to save money but that plan was set aside following concerns from customers and lawmakers. Estimates are that the postal service is losing some $25 million a day.
The current study was postponed until after the holiday rush, and the post office has now begun surveying its customers in rural areas and scheduling meetings in those communities to discuss the study findings, said Tad Kelley, post office spokesman in Pittsburgh.
In some cases the post office buildings will remain open for longer hours, and postal box customers will be able to access their package deliveries with keys left in their boxes that will open package storage lockers. Meanwhile, some post office employees are telling customers the changes could be rolling out within a month.
Kelly said all of the changes should be completed by 2014.
Some changes have already taken place, Taylor said. Two rural delivery routes in North Bethlehem require carriers to pick up mail in Bentleyville, he said.
Mail processing in Washington has been already been transferred to Pittsburgh’s Northside postal plant, and other such consolidations are under review, Kelley said.
“While we continue to right size the organizational infrastructure, keep costs down, and continue to provide optimum universal service funded solely by revenues from sales of our services and products, we continue to anticipate with hope that Congress will provide us with meaningful legislation which will change the antiquated business model we are mandated by law to operate within,” Kelley stated.
For more information on the post offices under review, visit: http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/welcome.htm