WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, one of the lead sponsors of bipartisan, comprehensive postal reform legislation, issued the following statement regarding the Postmaster General’s comments today about rural post offices.
Postmaster General Pat Donahoe announced that none of the 3,200 post offices slated for closure last year will be forcibly shuttered. However, about 13,000 post offices will either have work hours reduced, be co-located a nearby business such as the local pharmacy, merged with another location, or service will be provided to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route.
“I am cautiously optimistic that the Postmaster General has now devised a plan that will help preserve some essential postal services for rural America, while allowing the Postal Service to reduce its costs as it must do. Reduced hours at certain post offices or their co-location with another facility or a retail store, if properly designed, could well accomplish both goals. To be effective, such a plan must, however, take into account people’s schedules and post offices should be open at times convenient to their customers. The fact is, there are many options to cut costs and expand revenue while preserving service, such as: reducing the size of processing plants without closing them, shifting hours of some post offices, permitting other state or local services to be administered at post offices, or moving tiny post offices into grocery or other stores within the same community.
“It’s good news if, indeed, most of the 3,200 smaller post offices currently targeted by the Postal Service will not close, but rather that creative ways to reduce their costs will be explored. Involving communities and providing different options for mail service will both save the Postal Service money and also continue to ensure timely and effective access to postal services for customers. There should be clear minimum standards for service — which we establish in the bill just passed through the Senate — and communities should have a real voice in the decision.
“It is good news as well that the Postmaster General apparently has decided to implement some of the common-sense suggestions many of us have been urging for more than a year. I remain troubled that processing facilities could still be closed beginning just next week, which makes no sense at all given the progress on postal reform legislation. I expect to discuss this issue with the Postmaster General later today.”