- Written by Terry Arthur
The U.S. Postal Service made the decision to increase the pick-up times after quiet discussions with Sablan’s office and complaints from the general public.
“I am very grateful to postal officials for this decision,” Sablan said. “It’s going to be much easier for businesses and individuals to get their packages. They won’t have to schedule their trips to the post office around these limited pick-up times.
“The expanded hours for pick-up should also mean shorter lines and less wait-time, when people come for their packages.
“It just makes sense that whenever the Post Office is open it should be providing full service to patrons,” the Congressman added.
Sablan said the congressional office had received many calls from constituents who were inconvenienced by the limited package pick-up times.
“The post office is one of those places where a lot of people in the Marianas interact with their federal government,” Sablan explained. “Issues arise fairly regularly; and so we have developed a good working relationship with the Postal Service to respond to constituents’ concerns.”
“In this case getting a change in work patterns could cost money; but the Postal Service listened to what we had to say and made the right decision.”
The U.S. Postal Service has been under increasing pressure to cut costs. The agency has lost $25 billion since 2007 and is $13 billion in debt, primarily to its Retiree Health Benefits Fund. Both declining revenue in the face of e-mail and other competitors and increasing costs are putting the squeeze on the Postal Service.
One response to the deteriorating fiscal situation has been to close post offices. Since 1971 the number of post offices has declined from 42,287 to 35,119. And in recent years the USPS had proposed closing an additional 4,380 post offices nationwide.
In May, however, the Postal Service changed course and said it would be reducing operating hours in order to keep some rural post offices open. The total number of post offices that will have to be closed remains unclear.
In addition to its main post offices and satellite “branches” and “stations,” the USPS also contracts to provide “Community Post Offices.” These contract operations have been particularly hard hit in the last forty years, going from 6,434 to 3,610, a 44 percent cut.
The Postal Service has also downsized its workforce and wants to cut Saturday delivery in some locations.
“There are a number of proposals now before Congress to make changes in the Postal Service business model,” Sablan said. “But it is critical to maintain services to remote areas, like the Northern Marianas, where there are limited options for postal customers.
“In the meantime, I am appreciative that postal officials have decided to return to full service for package pick-up during all regular business hours.”