Late mail deliveries around Lawrence should end soon, says the city's postmaster.
Neither strike, nor automation nor power failure shall keep the mail from getting out. It may be late, but it will get out, the Lawrence postmaster says.
Residential customers have been experiencing late deliveries, Postmaster Bill Reynolds said Friday, but those delays should have ended for most.
Reynolds blamed late mail and fluctuating delivery times on several problems that hit the Lawrence postal offices in the last month.
Those included complications from the recent move to automation, higher mail volumes as a result of the United Parcel Service Strike, illnesses and even a power outage. Residential deliveries should be coming in within one-half hour of regular times each day, depending on the volume of mail the postal service gets that day, he said.
"Normally delivery should be completed by 4:30 p.m.," Reynolds said. "We've had a couple of problems, like the power outage, where we had people out until around 6:30 (making deliveries)."
Lawrence post office went to automated mail sorting in early August, a move designed to save more than $200,000 a year.
"Switching to automation did cause us to have to make some staffing and route adjustments. That caused some temporary difficulties with delivery times," he said. "Those are temporary and it just takes us a while to get them worked out."
The UPS strike also occurred during that time -- tripling and quadrupling the package deliveries letter carriers had to handle, he said. The increased volume set back most carriers by an hour each day, he said.
"We ended up dealing with both situations at the same time," he said.
Then there were a few other temporary problems, he said.
"One of the things that automation is dependent on is electricity," he said. "We had one day where we actually lost power to the building. Unfortunately, the two hours it was off was the normal time we would run the automated equipment."
The sorting machine can handle 600 pieces of mail per minute, while carriers do it anywhere from 20 to 30 a minute, he said.
There was also a day where 11 employees were hit by illness, he said.
"That's highly unusual. It really strapped us," he said.
But since the UPS strike ended, carriers learned new routes and people returned from illnesses, the mail delivery has improved, he said.
"I think a lot of people have seen a lot of the routes stabilize in the last couple of weeks," he said.
He said an evaluation of the new automation system is set for early November, when any changes needed will be made.