News - August 31, 2011

Postal Service reduces local mail routes

• Twelve fewer routes means 12 fewer carriers, but they will be assigned elsewhere.

by Dave Boyce

For some residents of Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Atherton, the consolidation of mail routes this week could switch delivery times from early morning to late afternoon, but postal workers will not be laid off locally, Menlo Park Postmaster Jeffrey D. Gaskill said in a telephone interview.

Postcards went out recently to these three communities — Woodside will not be affected — which are now served by 67 mail routes. Following the Postal Service consolidation on Tuesday, Aug. 30, there will be 55 routes, Mr. Gaskill said.

Delivery times will largely not change, he added, unless you happen to live at the beginning or end of a route that is being absorbed by two nearby routes. In those cases, residents may see their morning delivery change to the afternoon or vice versa, he said.

With 12 fewer routes, there will be 12 fewer carriers but they will be reassigned to local post offices that need them, given that there is no hiring going on, Mr. Gaskill said.

On average, a mail carrier now spends three hours in the office sorting the mail and five hours delivering it, Mr. Gaskill said. With the new routes and sorting machines, that equation will change to one and a half to two hours in the office and five to six hours on the street.

Customers and mail carriers have expressed sadness about the changes, Mr. Gaskill said. Some carriers have had the same route for 20 years and have seen residents' kids grow up.

"It has happened before, just not this dramatic," he said.

The post office that serves Woodside is not equipped with the advanced mail sorting equipment and so is not participating in this nationwide consolidation, Mr. Gaskill said.

"It's no secret that we're losing money," Mr. Gaskill said, referring to the Postal Service as a whole. "We're doing what we can to reduce costs and not reduce personnel."

And the spirit in the local post offices? "There's a lot of worrying about what's going on," Mr. Gaskill said. "We're letting our employees know what the state of the business is."


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