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Post Office decides to keep small posts running

Postmaster General and U.S. Postal Service CEO Patrick Donahoe announces a new plan to keep the nation's smallest post offices open despite ongoing budget troubles in Washington, D.C.

Stacey Vanek Smith: The U.S. Postal service is scrapping a plan to close hundreds of rural post offices. It was part of a money saving measure for the nearly bankrupt agency. We have the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe with us now from Washington. Good morning, Mr. Donahoe.

Patrick Donahoe: Good morning.

Vanek Smith: Mr. Donahoe, why did you change the plan to shut down hundreds of rural post offices?

Donahoe: What we did was last year when we announced our plans to review 3,700 post offices, we actually conducted 3,700 community visits. At those visits the customers came out and said, 'Please keep our post office open. We can understand if you have to change the hours that somebody's at the counter.' But at a lot of rural areas, people come to pick up their mail every day, they don't get delivery like we do in the city. And they said we'd like to have the option of doing that, can you come up with some suggestions to change and give us some options so we don't have to close our post office.

Vanek Smith: So what is the new plan and how much money is it expected to save?

Donahoe: The new plan is this: We are going to go to our regulatory agency in a couple of weeks and propose a plan that will change the way that we that we provide service for approximately 13,000 post offices. What we're going to be proposing is that in those 13,000 that we have window hours of six hours a day, four hours a day, or two hours a day based on customer traffic. How many times people come in to buy stamps or mail a package. We also will be maintaining or retaining the access to their mailbox, to their post office box at the same or better levels. We would propose to make these changes after Labor Day. At that point we would then spend time with the communities, all 13,000 with a visit, and we would propose the hours that we would be open, listen to any suggestions they had on what time that should be -- if it's four hours, 10 'til 2, that type of suggestion. And then we would go ahead and make the changes over the course of the next two years.

Vanek Smith: How much money is that expected to save?

Donahoe: We think it will save us half a billion dollars. It costs us today $1.2 billion to operate these small offices and it's about a 40 percent cost reduction.

Vanek Smith: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Patrick, thank you so much.

Donahoe: All righty, thank you.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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