Yale Station struggles to keep up

The post office at 206 Elm St. is struggling to keep up with an influx of packages, causing delays — and academic headaches — for many students waiting to pick up their textbooks.
The post office at 206 Elm St. is struggling to keep up with an influx of packages, causing delays — and academic headaches — for many students waiting to pick up their textbooks. Photo by Sharon Yin.

A delay in sorting mail at the Yale Station post office could leave many students without their packages ­— and, more importantly, their textbooks — for at least a few more days.

Due to a hefty influx of incoming mail and parcels, the post office at 206 Elm St. has fallen behind schedule on processing deliveries for students. After a United States Postal Service spokesperson was informed of the backlog by the News on Wednesday, several USPS employees from other local post offices were temporarily transferred to the Elm Street location to help sort and distribute packages. But the delay has already sparked discontent among many Yalies who have yet to receive textbooks and other items, and Campus Mail Services Director Don Relihan said the post office is currently unable to provide a timeline for when service will resume its normal pace.

USPS spokesperson Christine Dugas said Thursday that the Yale Station post office is only “one or two days” behind on sorting operations. She said delays like these can occur because packages for Yale students are first delivered to the main New Haven post office facility at 50 Brewery St., and then transferred to Yale Station in limited quanties due to the post office’s lack of storage space.

“It is not unusual for the USPS to be backed up with packages at the beginning of the academic year, because of the increase of the volume of mail,” Dugas said. “But we are working to speed up the process.”

This volume of incoming mail to Yale Station reached an all-time peak of 10,000 parcels during the week of Sept. 9 to Sept. 15, said Andrea Dallas, postmaster of the central New Haven post office. That figure was nearly double the 5,400 pieces of USPS mail the post office handled during the second week of fall classes in the 2011-’12 academic year.

This week, Dallas said, five extra USPS employees are working at Yale Station, in addition to the eight staff members that regularly handle mail during the semester. The USPS staff will be working longer shifts, as well as during weekends and holidays, to keep up with the spike in mail, she said.

“Some of the staff members here have worked till midnight this week, sorting out packages,” Dallas said. “That, most students probably don’t know.”

While 17 of 18 students interviewed acknowledged the efforts of the USPS staff in handling the unprecendented volume of incoming parcels, all the students called the delay unacceptable and said the post office should have taken steps to prevent it. Five students said they are still waiting to pick up packages that arrived nearly a week ago, according to online tracking information for their orders, and all 18 said they have experienced some sort of delay.

Mariona Badenas ’16 said she placed an order for textbooks on Amazon.com at the beginning of shopping period and received a notification last week that her packages had arrived in New Haven. She has not yet been able to get her shipment at the post office.

“I’ve been going every day to the post office, but I still haven’t found any yellow [slip],” Badenas said. “I understand the fact that they have a huge amount of work these days, but I really need my books for my classes. Without them, I can’t do any homework or study for any possible quiz.”

Connor Wiik ’15 called the delay “ridiculous,” noting that he has been unable to retrieve packages that online tracking information showed as arriving on Monday.

Olivia Valdes ’16, who had a package shipped on Sept. 6, said the package was delivered two days later, but that she didn’t receive a slip until Sept. 12. Valdes added that the current backup is not the first time she has experienced delays at Yale Station in the past month.

“Having to worry about whether your textbook will emerge from the post office’s back room in time for you to study for a test or complete your homework is crazy,” she said. “Everyone who works at Yale Station has been helpful and accommodating, but there’s only so much they can do when thousands of packages are coming in at once and they’re still sorting a prior day’s shipment.”

Dugas said students who believe they have packages that arrived more than two days ago, according to tracking information, should contact Yale Station supervisor Mike Madera. She also encouraged students to check their P.O. boxes frequently and retrieve their parcels as soon as possible, since Yale Station has limited space to store incoming packages.

Dallas said she hopes to work with the University to create “a better process to get the packages to students at a faster pace next year.”

Yale is one of the few universities in Connecticut that require students to activate a P.O. box to receive mail on campus.

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