Postal Service to close or merge five Milwaukee offices

In the face of decreased usage and revenue loss, the United States Postal Service is preparing to make changes to its infrastructure, including possible closures of some Milwaukee-area post offices.

According a statement from USPS released Sept. 15, proposals include possible closings or consolidations of over 250 post offices nationwide, reducing mail processing equipment by 50 percent and making “adjustments” to approximately 35,000 jobs for postal employees.

Five Milwaukee area locations are being considered for closure or consolidation, including locations on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Teutonia Avenue and Hampton Avenue.

A number of factors were considered when deciding which locations to potentially close or consolidate, including foot traffic and the number of hours employees worked at those locations, said Tim Ratliff, a spokesperson for the Postal Service.

These changes come after years of decreased revenue, customer traffic and retail transactions. Since the Postal Service does not receive taxpayer funding, it relies completely on customer revenue to stay in business.

“In the past 5 years, USPS has seen a revenue loss of 43 billion dollars,” Ratliff said. “Customer visits have declined by 200 million, and retail transactions have declined by 2 billion. We are facing a new reality.”

Ratliff said customers are using the post office in different ways, particularly through the USPS website.

“It used to be that in order to use our service, you actually had to go to the post office,” Ratliff said. “Now, we have a number of alternative locations as well as our website where they can access our products and services. People are not using their local post office as much.”

There is currently no timeline as to when final decisions will be made about closing or consolidating post office locations. If a location is chosen to be closed or consolidated, Ratliff said input from the community will be an important factor in the final decision.

“If we decided to close a post office, we would contact all businesses and residents in that area with 60 days’ notice so that they could provide comments,” Ratliff said. “Those comments would factor in to our decision about whether to close the location or not.”

Marquette students have access to USPS services through Union Station in the Alumni Memorial Union. According to Rob Mullens, the Union Station manager, mailing services are still sought after by students.

“All of our services are popular,” Mullens said. “Stamps and metered mail are services that are used consistently every day. We usually sell some money orders every day, but they are most popular around the beginning of the month, as they are often used to pay rent. Students definitely use mailing services.”

Lauren Daering, a senior in the College of Education, said post office closures will have less of an impact on college students because of the prevalence of technology.

“I use the post office for mailing things like packages,” Daering said. “But I feel like if students don’t have access to a post office, they will find other resources.”

Ratliff said because local post offices have a broad reach in communities, the Postal Service is trying to address necessary changes in a way that will have a minimum effect on customers.

“We have to do something to respond to the challenges we are facing,” Ratliff said. “As we go forward with these changes, we are trying to do so in a way that will have little effect on communities while also preserving the Postal Service.”