Post office looks at changing hundreds of offices

WASHINGTON (AP) - Financial losses in the Internet age are forcing the U.S. postal service to consider closing or combining nearly 700 facilities.

A top postal official says managers will be studying the approximately 3,200 stations and branches across the country. They'll be considering factors such as customer access, impact on workers, real estate values and long-term Postal Service needs.

The proposed changes come as people turn increasingly to the Internet to communicate and pay bills. Last year, mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces. That loss in volume is expected to nearly triple this year.

But, at the same time, population growth and new business mean the post office has to serve 1.2 million new addresses every year.

While Congress votes money for free mail delivery for the blind and to offer reduced rates to charities, the post office does not receive taxpayer funds for its operations.

The post office says no changes are expected before the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


The Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, posted 700 of them on a 12-page list at its Web site, -- but the site was almost impossible to reach, apparently overwhelmed by people trying to find out if their local branch was in danger.