CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to keep the town post office and six others on Maine islands open for at least six hours a day.
U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both D-Maine, announced the decision Tuesday in a press release.
The Postal Service, which is cutting hours at small post offices around the country in an attempt to lower costs, had planned to significantly reduce service at Maine island post offices to as little as two hours a day.
Pingree and Michaud asked the Postal Service to grant the island offices part-time status, which sets minimum operating hours at six a day and is given to rural communities where the next nearest post office is 25 miles away or more.
Although islands like Chebeague are less than 25 miles from another post office, the representatives argued that the distance criteria should not apply to islands that can only be accessed by ferry.
“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,” Michaud said in the news release. “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.”
The change will make a significant difference, Pingree said.
“The Postal Service had proposed cutting back the post office on Chebeague and Long Island to just four hours a day, for example,” Pingree said in the release. “And the next step could have been to close them altogether. Getting these offices officially designated as part-time post offices takes them off the list for these drastic reductions in hours and gives them some long-term security.”
Besides Chebeague, the islands designated for part-time status are Long Island, North Haven, Cranberry Isles, Islesboro, Islesford and Swan’s Island.