Postal Service's latest consolidation list kinder to cities

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The US Postal Service's latest list of branches that it may close is gentler to individual cities than past versions of its roster of possible consolidations. Of the 168 branches still being considered for closure, the highest number in one city — six — is shared by New York and Cincinnati.

As many as four branches could be consolidated in Akron, OH. Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta, Louisville, Detroit, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and Omaha, NE, all have three branches that could be closed.

Last month, the USPS narrowed its list of possible closures to 241. At that point, a number of cities had significantly larger numbers of branches on the list. The Postal Service then said it was considering closing 13 stations in Atlanta, eight in Washington DC, six in New York and five in Orlando, FL.

The consolidation process began this spring, when the USPS began to whittle down its initial list of about 3,200 branches.

The USPS announced December 14 that it was considering the closure of “less than 170” post office branches across the US. The branch consolidation initiative is part of a bigger effort to save money at the USPS, which last month reported a net loss of $3.8 billion for the 2009 fiscal year.

The agency has repeatedly said in statements that it is focusing its search on branches in urban and suburban areas “to determine where consolidations might be feasible without compromising customer access to postal services.”

The process has its critics. William Burrus, president of the American Postal Workers Union, has maintained that cutting post office services will be “counterproductive” and will disproportionately affect the elderly, the handicapped and the poor.

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