The United States Postal Service said this week it would consider reduced hours at hundreds of post offices in rural Georgia rather than closing them altogether.
The postal service has identified 258 Georgia post offices that would be open for two, four or six hours per day instead of the current eight hours. The changes are part of efforts to cut costs and put the service back in the black.
“Your post office still retains its identity, your ZIP code is still intact, and from a community identity standpoint, nothing changes there, just that you’ve got reduced hours,” said Michael Miles, spokesman for the postal district that covers the northern half of Georgia. “We’d like to think that that’s good news as opposed to the alternative of actually closing the office.”
The USPS said the plan would save $500 million dollars. It would be phased in over two years.
Miles said almost 40 percent of the post office’s retail business comes from its website and partnerships with grocery stores and other retailers who sell stamps and other products.
“People just don’t visit post offices as much as they once did,” Miles said. “We looked at those offices where the traffic is down and so this is an attempt to match the number of hours that post offices are open with the amount of traffic that comes in on a daily basis.”
People would still have the same access to post office lobbies and P.O. boxes as they do now.
The USPS will ask the Postal Regulatory Commission to weigh in on the idea. Then it will schedule community meetings to talk about the reduced hours. Some offices could still close if community members prefer that alternative.