US Postal Service will increase staff to address delays in Berkeley mail delivery

Originally published on October 31, 2016 for The Daily Californian

North Berkeley resident Mimi Mugler was in her living room at 1:30 a.m. when she heard some noise on her porch and opened the door to see her mailman standing there.

“He looked very stressed. He was saying they’re very backed up,” Mugler said. “I feel bad for the mail carriers. I think there should be staffing so that the mail gets delivered during a business day.”

Mail carriers in Berkeley have been delivering late into the night because of a greater volume of mail during the fall season due to an increased amount of advertising materials and online orders as the holiday season approaches, according to Augustine Ruiz, U.S. Postal Service corporate communications manager for the Bay Area. Berkeley and Oakland residents have reported issues with mail delivery, sometimes going days without receiving any mail, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

In order to prevent late delivery, USPS plans to hire 19 additional city carrier assistants, who are pre-career employees brought in at an entry-level position. USPS has to make 65,292 stops daily with its 163 carriers. Ruiz explained that problems with mail volume and transportation as well as staffing cause delays in mail delivery.

“Once we bring on additional carriers, we will be better able to meet our goal of getting all our carriers done with their routes and back to the office by 6 p.m.,” Ruiz said in an email. “We take seriously our role to deliver the mail and we appreciate our customers’ confidence in our service.”

Scott Wheeler also lives in North Berkeley and has found that some days he will not even receive his mail, let alone before 6 p.m. Wheeler believes that the quality of Berkeley mail delivery has declined in the past few years — however, he said it has gotten worse this year, which he attributes to the election.

Last week, Wheeler found almost 100 voter information guides in a recycling bin and reported his find to the USPS Office of Inspector General. Adrian Valdez, the public information officer for the Office of Inspector General, said the agency submitted an investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of California and a decision is pending, but the case is not related to late delivery.

“The mail delivery has seriously declined in the past few years,” Wheeler said. “It’s very common to have carriers with (a) miner’s light delivering as late as 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”

Downtown Oakland resident Robbie Trencheny’s apartment building has experienced issues with mail delivery similar to those remarked upon by Mugler and Wheeler. He said he was only worried about receiving and turning in his ballot for the election, as his roommates received their ballots a week late.

With increased problems concerning mail delivery, Trencheny and Mugler said they prefer to turn in their ballots at designated drop-off boxes instead of mailing them in.

“I just think it’s just not quite reliable,” Mugler said. “There seems to be something amiss with mail service in Berkeley and I prefer to make sure the ballot is in the drop in box, make sure it gets in on time.”

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