Interactive Map: Post Office Cutbacks

Rural post offices slated to reduce their hours

The map shows the locations of post offices slated to cut back their hours.

Source: U.S. Postal Service

The continuing growth of Internet commerce and communication has left the U.S. Postal Service searching for cost-saving measures that will help stem an operating loss estimated at $14 billion this year.

One plan would reduce the operating hours of 13,000 rural post offices, including 69 in New Jersey, from eight hours to as little as two hours each day. These post offices are consolidated in the south and northwestern parts of the state.

This is a better fate than what the USPS had originally proposed, which was the closure of 3,700 rural offices, which would have meant the loss of local post office boxes and zip codes, which could have required people living in affected areas having to change their address for mailing purposes. The postal service has surveyed its customers and found 54 percent support keeping their local facilities open with reduced hours.

“We’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear — they want to keep their Post Office open,” said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe in announcing the plan last week. “We believe today’s announcement will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the postal service return to long-term financial stability.”

In just the last six years, the postal service has lost more than a quarter of its retail post office business: Customers made 930 million visits to the locations last year, compared with nearly 1.3 billion in 2005.

Rural post offices lose money every year. According to the postal service, 88 percent of the nation’s 18,000 rural post offices are not self-sustaining. The typical rural post office costs $114,000 a year to operate. Some earn as little as $15,000, taking in little more than $50 a day from fewer than five customers, on average.

After reviewing all the post offices, the USPS decided to keep about 4,500 open for the full eight hours a day.

The USPS plans to file its proposal with the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission at the end of the month. After a 90-day review, the service expects to phase in the reduced hours over two years, beginning in September.

Other plans to save money include a voluntary early retirement program for more than 21,000 postmasters and the consolidation of 140 mail processing facilities across the country. Yesterday, the USPS announced plans to move mail processing operations from facilities in Egg Harbor to Bellmawr and from Eatontown to Trenton. Other changes in the mail, including first class delivery, also are in the works.

Those New Jersey post offices slated to have their hours cut are mapped. Click on a location to see its address, zip, and the new number of hours the post office is to be open.

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