Saturday, August 01, 2009

Several Local Post Offices May Close For Good

The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing a bunch of local post offices as part of its ongoing national consolidation effort to save money.

"We are in a situation now where we are looking at everything to reduce the costs so we do not have to increase our rates to the American public," said Tad Kelley, spokesman in Pittsburgh.

The 13 local offices on the list:

• Allegheny Station, 395 Federal St., North Side
• Arsenal Branch, 186 42nd St., Lawrenceville
• Brookline Station, 612 Brookline Blvd.
• Corliss Branch, 651 Hillsboro St., Sheraden
• Etna Branch, 335 Butler St.
• Homewood Branch, 566 Brushton Ave.
• Millvale Station, 205 Lincoln Ave.
• Mt. Lebanon, 714 Washington Road
• Neville Island, 115 Second St.
• Uptown Branch, 1402 Fifth Ave.
• Veteran's Hospital Branch, University Drive C
• West Mifflin Branch, 5001 Homeville Road
• Wilkinsburg Carrier Facility, 5000 Andrews Drive

Link: www.postgazette.com/pg/09213/987932-455.stm

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

In addition to the post offices, neighborhood postal repositories that have been so evident and convenient for decades are being removed....in my immediate neighborhood 2 without warning or notice this past week alone....the corners of Terrace Dr. & Hoodridge Dr. and Woodland Dr./Whitmor St. & Vermont Ave. The closest ones are now in Castle Shannon, unless they also have been spirited away.

After years of promises that round after round, year after year of fee and price increases, coupled with $ billions in capital spent on alleged equipment for increased efficiency and cost containment, would restore the USPS to financial respectability, the USPS has become a financial debacle and a national embarrassment. With the enormous competitive advantages of tax exemption and government (ie. our tax$)subsidy and bailout, and with even some prices being lower, the USPS does not compete effectively with UPS and FED-EX in many head-to-head services.

And now they want government to run/control health care ? And the national financial system ?

August 01, 2009 11:59 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm not surprised that the Mt. Lebanon post office is closing. It's not open at convenient hours and you can't access a post office box after hours. I end up having to go to the Castle Shannon post office anyway.

August 02, 2009 2:13 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Unlike Bill, I have no complaints about the USPS. We always get great service and the fact that they are looking to close branches is not surprising. We have always gotten efficient and affordable service from USPS at a fraction of the cost of FedEx, UPS, or DHL.

Actually, I have had many more experiences with any of the latter delivering packages that are crushed beyond recognition (UPS), or items inside stolen (FedEx). That has never happened with USPS.

BTW Bill: Please spare us the worn out talking points about healthcare that consist of something like this: "If the government can't get [INSERT SOMETHING YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT GOVERNMENT], how can they possibly get healthcare right. I'll trust the government healthcare over Wall Street healthcare anyday.

August 02, 2009 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Arthur d'Arrigo, Jr said...

I really take issue with Bill's conclusions. Unlike fedex or UPS, the USPS maintains a commitment to deliver mail to every address every day. Regarding "head to head" competition, Bill should know that fedex already carries all USPS overnight and express delivery. I am also unaware of any "bailout" of the USPS referenced by Bill.

Now I would not deny that there is pleanty of waste in the USPS-- it is the 3rd largest employer in the nation, and the commitments already made to federal workers to immense. But overall your criticism is unfair. The USPS is not an embarassment, at least not on the scale of ENRON, or Bear Stearns, or Counrtywide or even BankAmerica.

August 02, 2009 11:11 AM  
Anonymous David Brown said...

I'm all for a healthy distrust of government. But letting anti-government ideology run rampant in all things is a large part of what has gotten America in the predicament it's in, as it has only provided cover for the wholesale ransacking of our institutions.

August 02, 2009 2:28 PM  
Blogger dave said...

It is not at all surprising that with the meteoric rise of email and online bill paying that the USPS would eventually feel the pinch. Closing slow locations seems like smart business to me.

And Mr. Lewis, the most convenient repository that I'm aware of is still my front porch!! I have a tough time complaining about any service that will come to my doorstep every day, hand me all of my incoming mail and then take all of my outgoing mail and deliver it anywhere in the U.S. (usually in about 2 days) for just 44 cents a pop. Think about that!!! Everything should be that easy.

August 02, 2009 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

"The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on July 28, 2009 added the financial condition of the U.S.Postal Service to its 'High Risk List' of federal areas in need of transformation....There are serious and significant structural financial challenges facing the Postal Service...Mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces in fiscal year 2008 to a total of 203 billion, and is projected to fall by 28 billion pieces in fiscal year 2009 to a total of 175 billion pieces with continued decline over the next 5 years...USPS projects a net loss of $7 billion this fiscal year compared to losses of $2.8 billion in 2008 and $5.1 billion in 2007. Outstanding debt will increase to over $10 billion this fiscal year (compared to $7.2 billion in 2008 and $4.2 billion in 2007), and a cash shortfall of about $1 billion" according to the GAO.

The goals or outcomes specified in the Office of Inspector General, USPS's "Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2008" were not achieved. Their new "Vision 2013" 5-yr. strategic plan for 2009-2013 has no quantitatively measurable goals, including a total absence of anything related to financial performance or outcomes. The USPS may consider proposed reductions in delivery to 5 days a week in order to save at least $3.5 billion per year (they have already floated Saturday eliminations as a trial balloon). Estimated cost savings of closing the smallest Post Offices ranges from $500 million to $1.4 billion per year.

The U.S. President appoints 9 of the 11-member board of the USPS, who in turn appoint the remaining 2 members.

And now we can all look forward to the prospect of a government run/controlled health care system .

August 02, 2009 7:58 PM  
Blogger Tim Nolan said...

Bill,

I think you are overlooking the most important aspect of a government or not-for-profit service which is: How Good is the Service?

I think Dave B. and Dave F. both touched on this. The quality of service vs. the price charged by the USPS is exceptionally high compared to their for profit competitors. If anything they are still dramatically underpriced per transaction.

Many large for-profit entities have been running at a far more severe deficit for the past two years (e.g., BofA, WellsFargo, Citi, AIG, GM, Chrysler, etc.) or longer. Can we now use this as an indictment of for-profit healthcare? I mean if these titans of capitalism can't balance their books without our tax dollars, can we really trust for-profit businesses with healthcare?

(Let me be clear: I think we can and need to have both private and public healthcare options. I was pointing out the absurdity of that line of reasoning.)

August 02, 2009 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Arthur d'Arrigo, Jr said...

So Bill, now that you have quoted me your statistics, please explain how a private sector business will achieve greater efficency in mail service. It seems to me that your statistics only support the basic premise that it is getting more difficult to make money delievering mail because of technology.

Now I can look forward to paying my $14,000 annual insurance premium, up from $6,200 in 2003.

August 02, 2009 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Arthur d'Arrigo, Jr said...

Some related information: Fedex revenue down 20% through May 31 with current stock price at 67.84 down from 96.99 52 week high.
UPS earnings reduction 49% through June of this year.

Its a tough climate.

August 02, 2009 11:34 PM  
Anonymous David Huston said...

Why don't postal vehicles get PA state safety inspected?
Military, police and fire vehicles must be inspected; as well as Amish horse buggies and motor scooters.
Rascal scooters are excepted.
The Postal trucks and vans are in our neighborhoods everyday- who else is concerned the brakes might fail and run over a child?

I have complained in person, over the phone and by mail about the 2 missing blue boxes, at Country Club/Sleepy Hollow and Crystal/Broadmoor.
http://www.payphone-project.com/mailboxes/
The day after the box was removed I met with three other people who had no place to drop their outgoing mail.
The blue box at Audubon and Castle Shannon Blvd. is still there, but you can see the post office from that box.
The blue box emptying man can make paper airplanes of the mail and fly it over to the post office.
There is a convenient box at Elmspring & Scrubgrass for folks who live in another part of town.
Other blue drop boxes remain, such as the one at Bower Hill & Ralston.
The various neighborhoods do not get equal treatment by the U.S. Postal Service. Even Rolling Hills in Baldwin Twp. has a blue drop box at Highview & Pearce.
The USPS says the volume of outgoing mail has dropped. What provisions do they have in place when the volume increases?
How about when the blue drop boxes at the Castle Shannon Blvd. post office are so full the mail is dumping out into the parking lot?
I've seen it happen.

Don't they know the mail that's not going into the neighborhood blue drop boxes has to go somewhere?

Once I received mail from the municipality that did not have enough postage stamped by the meter. The mailman made me pay him the balance to get my mail.

It's no fun getting pepper sprayed in the mouth when you get between your dog and the mailman.

For those who think it's smart to put outgoing mail in the residential box, think again:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt08.shtm
The FTC says, "Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox."

Does everyone else complain like me, or just roll over and keep paying more for less?

August 03, 2009 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Tim Nolan said...

Dave,

I'm beginning to think you and Bill on your own on the USPS issue.

Pepper spray? Really?

I believe because USPS vehicles are Federally owned, they have their own safety inspection protocol that takes precedence. Frankly, the postal carriers are the last people I worry about hitting pedestrians.

August 05, 2009 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

To all the Postal apologists who were critical of my comments beginning on 8/1/09, please read Tom Purcell's piece in todays Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (8/16/09) on page D6 entitled "Don't go postal". Also available online.

Tom is a freelance writer who lives in Mt. Lebanon. Read it and weep !

August 16, 2009 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

As a postscript to this string, the Postal apologists will be sad to learn that their acclaimed service is cutting back local weekday and Saturday office hours effective later this week...undoubtedly in support of their official Mission to "serve the needs of the public"...and without an explanation (admitting) why in their posted notices on office doors.

August 24, 2009 3:36 PM  

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