US Post Office continues to address issues with rural delivery
In the spring of 2015, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) made some changes to their service that resulted in frustration from many of its western rural customers, including readers of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.
Acting Postal Operations Manager for Wyoming Curt Artery explains that while the state saw challenges associated with a number of changes, they are working to resolve the issues now.
“I do understand the frustrations that rural Wyoming people have related to the USPS,” Artery says. “We are trying to work with people to see what we can do to fix those problems.”
Changes in service
In spring of 2015, Artery explains that delivery standards for the USPS were changed from overnight service to two-day service for first class mailings. Periodicals and parcel post followed shortly after. These changes were nationwide.
“Then, along with that, the way mail traveled changed,” he said.
For example, the Rock Springs facility was closed, and mail is now routed through Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We had a lot of plants that weren’t being utilized to their full capacity,” Artery explains. “We downgraded or did away with some of those to try to be more efficient.”
With the changes, Artery continues, “There was a lot of confusion in routing information that took a while to catch up with the changes and how they were supposed to be.”
The logistical aspects of mail delivery across state lines, ranging from port of entry crossing to Department of Transportation regulations, created a number of unforeseen challenges.
“The bottom line is, implementing changes of this magnitude in a company this size is bound to bound to cause bumps in the road. When we made the changes, some of the results were less than desirable,” Artery says.
After problems were identified, Artery explains that a number of measures are being taken to continue service as smoothly as possible, though the system is not perfect.
“We are trying really hard to keep local publications local,” he says. “For all periodicals, for example, if the Wheatland newspaper is mailed in Wheatland, we try to keep it in house instead of trucking it to Cheyenne like the rest of the mail.”
For the Roundup, Artery notes that service to western Wyoming was sped up by taking the paper from Cheyenne directly to Salt Lake City, Utah, rather that routing it through Denver, Colo. to Salt Lake.
“We are trying to work with our customers to fix any problems,” he adds.
Challenges with delivery
Rural mail delivery presents many challenges, Artery says, but there are some measures that customers can take to ensure the best possible service from USPS.
“When we look at rural mail, addressing becomes very important,” Artery explains. “The mail does go through our automated system. If the addresses aren’t right, that creates problems.”
In addition, recent changes in addressing related to the Homeland Security addresses mean that it is imperative that people double-check their address.
Artery also encourages USPS customers to check their address with the Post Office.
“We have a number of carriers who have been working for a long time,” he says. “Right now we have such a big turnover that our new carriers may not know who lives where.”
“A correct address is the main thing,” Artery says. “The next thing is to communicate with the Postmaster with any problems.”
If customers continue to have problems with their mail delivery service, Artery notes, “The best avenue for people to take is to contact their government representatives. That includes representatives from the city, county, state and nation.”
Future of USPS
For the future of the USPS, Artery says that he does not anticipate any new changes in the near term.
“I don’t see that any new changes will be coming,” he comments. “These recent changes have been challenging for all Wyoming postal employees, and there aren’t any more that I am aware of.”
The USPS will continue to analyze how to improve rural mail delivery, however.
In a recent article in PubAux, it was reported that the National Newspaper Association (NNA) asked for the Postal Regulatory Commission to produce regular studies of on-time delivery to rural areas and small towns.
“In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed with NNA. At the request of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) the committee adopted a requirement for USPS to create exactly the sort of study NNA asked for,” wrote Tonya Rush in the article. “It would require measurement of service from rural areas to rural areas, rural to urban areas and urban to rural areas.”
Artery says, “There are some hurdles and we need Congress’ help to reach a solution.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.