Most businesses would salivate at the prospect of having cornered the downtown market, but when it comes to postal service — specifically at Yale Station — monopoly may not be ideal.
With the recent closure of a post office on Orange Street, traffic is migrating to the Elm Street post office on Old Campus, lengthening lines and wait times at the facility. Customers, including Yale students, complain of delays at the post office, but postal service representatives said wait times at Yale Station are actually relatively low.
The postal service opened a temporary location just around the corner on Chapel Street after the Orange Street office closed after renovations to the facilities created health risks. But this post office, which contains only a stamp vending machine and rows of post office boxes, does not offer counter service as Yale Station does.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the delays have inconvenienced New Haven residents and the post office is taking steps to fix the problem, but lines at Yale Station on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons snaked throughout the underground facility.
Stacey Scirocco, an employee at the Yale Cancer Center, said she had previously frequented the Orange Street post office but now comes to Yale Station, albeit reluctantly.
“My options were limited, so I came here very hesitantly because it’s a very busy spot,” she said. “I’ve come here before and literally turned around and walked out because I’m on my lunch hour and I don’t have unlimited time.”
Frederick Mocatta ’10, who said he has spent time in New Haven periodically over the past few years, said he has experienced much longer wait times this year than on previous trips to the post office.
“Cutting back the postal service on Orange Street simply means that there are more members from the New Haven community using the post office at Yale Station,” Mocatta said.
Postal service representatives said their data tells another story, however. The majority of wait times during recent “mystery shopper” evaluations performed by Maritz Research — a Missouri-based marketing research firm — clocked in under the postal service’s standard of five minutes, said Tom Rizzo, spokesperson for the Connecticut district of the U.S. Postal Service.
The average wait time during a Dec. 7 evaluation was a mere three minutes and 26 seconds, Rizzo said, and only two out of the eight evaluations for the fiscal year 2006 reported wait times over five minutes.
“There’s always an ebb and flow to crowdedness, and you’ll find that in any business,” Rizzo said. “The experience [of those reporting excessive wait times] was unusual based on this mystery shop.”
But City Plan Department Executive Director Karyn Gilvarg ARCH ’75, whose department testified at a mid-December aldermanic hearing on the proposed relocation of the post office, said the downtown area urgently needed another post office.
“The virtue of the downtown post office was that it was a block from the downtown transportation center,” Gilvarg said. “It’s crazy not to have a full-service post office downtown.”
Rizzo said his office is soliciting bids for construction of a new post office or rental of an already-existing space, but does not have a timeline for the project’s completion.
—Eli Bildner contributed to this report.