The U.S. Postal Service is seeing mail volume fall, along with revenues. As a way to cut costs, postal officials in Iowa and nationwide are studying the possibility of closing some postal branches and stations, but not post offices.
Richard Watkins, spokesman for the postal service’s Hawkeye District, says the potential closings of the smaller postal facilities would primarily be in Iowa’s larger metro areas.
"We’ve got 36,000 post offices from coast-to-coast," Watkins says. "Just to put that into perspective, that’s nearly three times the number of post offices as McDonalds has restaurants. We’re not seriously looking at closing any of those small post offices, but we are looking, where we can and where we can maintain service levels, at some of those stations and branches that we might be able to consolidate."
In the past fiscal year, mail volume fell by nine-and-a-half billion pieces. That’s a decline of nearly five-percent from the previous year and translates to a loss of nearly three-billion dollars. "The Postal Service has been negatively impacted by the down economy like other organizations and companies," Watkins says.
"As you know, we’re not tax-supported so the Postal Service is not looking for a bailout, we don’t get tax dollars to begin with, but what we are looking for is some flexibility that will allow us to overcome this terrible economic downturn." He reinforces, the postal service is studying postal stations and branches for consolidation, not post offices.
Branches and stations report to a particular post office and have a manager who reports to the post master. There are about 850 post offices in Iowa and far fewer branches and stations. Watkins says the postal service is making every effort to cut costs without cutting service.
"We’ve worked very closely with the National Association of Letter Carriers, for example, over the past several months to review and expedite the consolidation of delivery routes because there’s such a significant drop in mail volume over the past year," Watkins says. "It only makes sense to look at any area where we can gain some economies of scale and save our customers money."
While the postal service cut costs by two-billion dollars last year, including 50-million fewer hours worked, USPS.com says on-time delivery of First Class mail hit a new record high.