The struggling U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday said it will not close thousands of rural post offices as it originally planned– instead opting to keep those small branches open for shorter hours.
At least 28 locations in South Carolina had been possible candidates for closure.
“There’s some small post offices that are serving 7-10 customers a day,” said Harry Spratlin, the Postal Service spokesman for South Carolina, “So they really don’t need as many hours to have an employee in the office at some of those locations.”
Nationwide, up to 3,700 offices could have been closed when a moratorium ended May 15. Last week, nearly half of the U.S. Senate urged the Postal Service to wait on closures until they had passed overhaul legislation that targets the agency’s financial troubles.
The USPS predicts it will have a $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year if no changes are made.
Most of the 13,000 small branches could reduce their operating time by two to six hours. In a press conference Wednesday, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the new plan will help ease concerns from rural residents worried about their nearest branch being shuttered.
The agency said it believes the new proposal would save more money than the original plan to close up to 3,700 branches nationwide. Most of the savings would come from phasing out the full-time postmasters (who are not unionized) at up to 13,000 locations and replacing them with part-time staffers. Wednesday’s announcement does not affect the Postal Service’s decision earlier in February to close its distribution centers in Florence and Augusta.
Spratlin said, if the Postal Service gets regulatory approval, the new plan would be phased in over the next two years and completed by September 2014.