Ten percent of U.S. post offices are going under the microscope to see if they should stay open. More than 200 in Pennsylvania, including 17 in Philadelphia, as well as another 50 in New Jersey are on the list for possible closing.
In Northwest Philadelphia, offices in Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls and East Germantown are being looked at.
At the Spring Garden branch Tuesday, Thomas Bailey, a deaf customer, collects his mail. Bailey doesn’t have a computer or the TTY machine that translates phone calls into text. “You wanna get in touch with me, mail it. If I want to get in touch with you I mail it,” he said.
The U.S. Postal Service plan, announced Tuesday, also touts automated kiosks, post offices housed in grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as online transactions.
But Maria Roman wants a real branch. She stops by the Spring Garden postal facility three times a week, often to send packages and money to her family in Puerto Rico.
“Everyone in there is like a friend for a long time. Everybody knows everybody. It’s like a family to the community. That’s what it is,” says Roman, who was posting a hospital bill. “If these people close this, we lose a lot. We need this open. This is important, for me and other people like me. Hispanics, black, white. Everyone uses it.”
Last year, the post office lost more than $8 billion. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the chairman of the congressional committee overseeing the post office, called the announcement a difficult but necessary step to save the service from total collapse.
Many candidates are in rural areas, such as Brave, which is less than a mile from the West Virginia border and has a population of just a few hundred people.
Denise Taylor, a part-time clerk in Brave’s office, said she has noticed a decrease in mail volume in the last two years.
“Well, I’m not really surprised. It’s a small place and, I mean it’s really rural,” said Taylor. “I’m not sure what the people around there will do. Even though it’s a small town they’re still concerned about how they’re going to get their mail. But yet I think they understand we can’t keep a business open that’s really not doing any business.”
A representative of Philadelphia’s postal operations says that the way customers use their services has radically changed. Business from nontraditional retail outlets and online transactions is rapidly growing.
Is your local post office on the chopping block? How will this affect you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.