Closing in on the one-year delay of post office closings, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., continues to show her support for rural post offices, now fighting to keep six-day delivery.
Senate legislation McCaskill initiated passed in April and saved nearly 3,700 post offices, 167 of which were in Missouri. The bill also limits the United States Postal Service’s ability to close retail branches.
She released a letter to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe expressing her opposition to moving to five-day delivery Jan. 31.
“We don’t even know if the move to five-day delivery will save the post office any real money,” McCaskill said in a news release. “Many families, businesses and seniors, especially in rural Missouri, depend on current delivery standards and want to see it preserved.”
The letter requests new studies with current data and fiscal approximations. The most recent studies from USPS, which were used to recommend the transition to five-day delivery, are from 2009.
The study stated cutting Saturday delivery would save $3 billion annually. The Postal Regulatory Committee said these savings were overestimated and found that one-quarter of all First-Class and Priority mail would be delayed.
The letter, which McCaskill and Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., signed, states, “We believe six-day delivery remains a critical strength and competitive advantage for USPS that will enable it to grow business and bolster revenue over the long-run.”
USPS, which does not receive taxpayer dollars, runs off of its own revenue. After receiving negative feedback on closing small post offices, its compromise was to reduce hours anywhere from 2-6 hours a day, according to Victor Dubina, manager of corporate communications for Missouri post offices. The change doesn’t affect delivery, he said, only the retail operation hours of post offices.
“The post office is seeing mail volumes decline, specifically first-class mail and that’s because the way people communicate has changed,” Dubina said. “Text messages and emails used to be letters, people go online to pay their bills as opposed to mailing a check.”
Village post offices are also becoming more popular across the country. These are local businesses with basic postal services, such as selling stamps or mailing letters.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Dubina said. “There is access there, but with a small business they have more opportunity to get more foot traffic and the ability to stay in the community longer.”
As of fiscal year 2011, there are 35,119 retail postal offices. In that same year, Statistic Brain lists that there are 12,804 McDonalds, 10,787 Starbucks and 4,253 Walmarts in the United States. The post office has more retail locations than these three corporations combined.
Dubina said limiting hours was a response to a decline in mail volume.
“We’re already seeing the limited hours with limited people going (to the post office),” Dubina said. “In a continual decline, there are some tough decisions that have to be made. We think this is a nice fair compromise to keep the offices open; we get some savings from it and people still have access to the office.”