by Christopher Freeburn | May 10, 2012 10:54 am
Facing pressure from Congress, the postal service says it will shelve plans to close rural post offices.
With annual losses of billions of dollars, the postal service is scrambling to find politically acceptable ways to trim costs, while hoping for legislative action to help its finances.
Last year, the postal service announced plans to close as many as 3,600 post offices, but said it would wait until May 15 before taking any action to give Congress time to weigh in.
Partisan squabbling has made it unlikely that Congress will act and the May 15 deadline is fast approaching.
Many of the post offices targeted for closure were in rural areas. Lawmakers complained that shutting down those offices would leave customers without a viable means of receiving mail service.
Instead of closing post offices, the postal services says it will reduce hours at lesser used locations, some of which will stay open as little as two hours a day. The postal service hopes to save $500 million annually with the reduced hours.
But that may not be enough to save the postal service, which is projected to lose as much as $18 billion a year if current trends remain unchanged.
The plan to reduce hours at rural post offices still requires approval from regulators and may not take effect until 2014.
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