Ithaca Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hard Times At the Downtown Post Office

We don't blame the dedicated (and over-worked) staff there, but the paucity of service at the downtown post office is reaching critical proportions.

It's bad, and will get worse, with new shorter hours this month.

On a trip there Monday afternoon, the line was the length of the building, and would have gone out the building, except people turned around and left rather than wait outdoors. There were 20-plus people on line, and 2 clerks. The wait was over half an hour.

On a trip this morning, it was better, though not good: a 15-minute wait for service.

The only way to avoid this postal purgatory is to arrive after the last delivery truck leaves at 5:25 pm. This is kind of beside the point, of course, to go a day before your mail will move, but that's the way it is.

Now, however, this will no longer be possible, as the office will no longer stay open until 6:30, but will close at 5.

Of course, if you get there at 5, there is no guarantee you will be served before the 5:25 departure of the truck.

We guess the new cuts, and the usual short-staffing, has to do with the deficit the post office incurs. It is hard to imagine, however, that this particular branch loses money. It is understaffed by at least half, with captive customers who will stay and provide business even if it means wasting a significant part of their work day.

We think it's time for local officials and business leaders to talk with the bosses at USPS.

It's becoming a municipal issue, considering the loss of economic productivity caused by what is essentially a utility, or at least a vital public service.

Surely the USPS has figures that show the amount of business at this branch - our sole downtown facility - cannot be handled by two staffers (which goes down to one, when one goes on break).

In the meantime, we recommend you do like we do. We bring books. Big, big books. And crossword puzzles. (The Sunday puzzle. The dailies are too short.)

If the USPS bosses can't or won't do anything, maybe we can stave the losses to the local economy by creating some ancillary businesses out front: news stand, lunch wagon, shoeshine booth, watch repair? And inside, chair massages, ear piercing, tattoos?

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog (and Small World Music's mail order division!)

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