Postal Service may close several branches near Stanford

Sept. 27, 2011, 2:08 a.m.

With an expected budget deficit of $9.2 billion for the fiscal year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is considering closing a number of offices, including 114 in California, several of which are close to campus.

Affected post offices near Stanford include Colonnade, near San Jose, in addition to Loma Mar, San Gregorio, two offices near Oakland and five offices in or near San Francisco.

A list of 3,653 offices marked for potential closures was announced on July 26. The Postal Service said it would save $200 million annually by closing these 3,653 offices. However, this does not mean that all offices on the list will close.

The Colonnade post office is still in the study stage, so its fate has not yet been decided. There will be a public meeting about the post office on Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the First Immanuel Lutheran Church in San Jose.

Proposals to close the San Gregorio and Loma Mar post offices were posted in the respective lobbies on Sept. 17, 2011, and will remain posted for 60 days.

“These offices are being studied for possible closure because of a declining office workload and steadily declining revenue over the past several years,” wrote James T. Wigdel, U.S. Postal Service spokesperson for the San Francisco area, in an email to The Daily. “After the posting period, a decision will be made as to whether or not the Post Offices will be closed. If the decision is to close, that notice will be posted for 30 days and the community will have an opportunity to appeal that decision.”

The Postal Service is struggling with high labor costs and decreased mail volume, which results in low revenue. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) research scholar Greg Rosston suggested that the Postal Service should cut down more drastically on its variable costs.

“This cut is trying to reduce the fixed costs,” Rosston wrote in an email to The Daily. “However, I suspect that a large part of the cost of running the operation that has not been adjusting with declining volume is service-related costs. It takes the carrier approximately as much time to do a route with five pieces of mail as it does with 10 pieces of mail.”

The Postal Service has already announced the end of Saturday delivery, which would lower variable costs, along with its plans to close post offices, whose costs are fixed costs, as well as lay off workers. Rosston suggested that the Postal Service should go further and cut delivery service down to three days a week, allowing people to pay a small amount for five or six-day delivery.

Many of the offices on the list are in rural areas and have low traffic. The Postal Service has said it would not leave rural areas entirely. The solution may be a partnership with local businesses, such as grocery stores and gas stations, to provide basic, popular services, such as flat-rate shipping, even after local post offices close. Sales from stamps at grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses already account for 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenues.

Billy Gallagher is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has previously worked at The Daily as editor in chief, a managing editor of news, news desk editor, sports desk editor and staff development editor. He is a junior from Villanova, PA majoring in Economics. He is also a writer for TechCrunch.

Login or create an account