The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to grant seven island post offices part-time status in order to keep them open six hours a day, according to a joint press release issued Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree.
The postal service is implementing a plan to reduce hours in small post offices, although part-time status can be given to offices in remote rural areas, protecting them from more severe service reductions.
Michaud and Pingree had sent letters requesting that post offices on Long Island, Chebeague, North Haven, Islesboro, Cranberry Isles and Swans Island be kept open a minimum of six hours a day. The USPS had proposed cutting their hours from eight to four or even two in some cases.
Postal service regulations require part-time post offices to be at least 25 miles from the nearest full-time post office, but the representatives claimed the 25-mile criteria shouldn’t apply to islands that are accessible by ferry only.
“In Maine, we are proud to still have island communities where residents live year-round miles away from the mainland. On these small islands, the local Post Office performs several functions. It is a community center, distribution point for small businesses, lifeline for seniors and window to the outside world for all residents. In short, the Post Office serves just as vital a connection to the mainland as the ferry,” Pingree wrote in her letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on Dec. 14, 2012.
Besides the six islands mentioned in Pingree’s and Michaud’s letters, the USPS also granted part-time status to Islesford Post Office, according to its letter dated Jan. 15. Previously, the USPS had agreed to Pingree’s request to grant part-time status to the Cliff Island, Monhegan and Matinicus post offices.
“The postal service recognized the unique situation faced by Maine’s island communities, and I’m pleased they agreed to our request to maintain reasonable hours,” said Michaud. “Washington needs more of these types of common sense responses when it comes to addressing other challenges. A good start would be finally passing meaningful postal reform legislation that puts the postal service on a path to fiscal stability.”