Friday, January 11, 2013

Triboro Misses the Mark (but Eventually Hits it Again)

First, some background:

New York City's Triboro postal District is among the nation's smallest in terms of geographic area served as well as number of postal facilities operated. That said, it services five million people, more than three times the population within the vast Dakotas District (which includes North and South Dakota as well as Montana). Within NYC the adjacent New York District takes on Manhattan and the Bronx, while Triboro manages Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

In 2009, before its nationwide Area Mail Processing initiative, USPS consolidated many operations from the mail processing facilities in Staten Island and Queens into Brooklyn's massive Processing and Distribution Center (the Brooklyn P&DC), home of the Triboro District offices. (Said was previously featured and pictured on this blog.) Previously, nearly all mail from within New York City would be cancelled with a postmark bearing the name of its respective borough. Within Triboro, however, everyone would receive a postmark that reads the following:

(It could be worse; the Bronx lost all recognition when mail processing consolidated into New York's Morgan Annex a couple of years ago.)

Mind you, there's no real connection between the 'Triboro' boroughs beyond their postal affiliation—the Triborough Bridge connects Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx, after all. The New York Times, in a rather thorough article, reported that various folks around the city were dismayed by this development. But at least Queens and Staten Island still held their (if diminished) statures on their mail.

Over the course of 2012 my father and I (Queens residents) were perplexed and/or annoyed to discover that most mail processed with a TRIBORO cancel began to shortchange our fair borough: the 'QNS' had vanished. The truncated postmark now read "TRIBORO NY 112 / BKLYN-STATEN ISL." Here's an example:

Triboro NY postmark, missing Queens. What is this—BIBORO? It felt a bit like a Carmen Sandiego episode.

Let's put this in perspective: the population of Queens exceeds 2.3 million. Houston proper contains 2.1 million people; Philadelphia: 1.5 million. Phoenix: 1.5 million. USPS had just deleted one of the nation's largest cities from the mailstream.

By the end of November I'd heard nothing from a handful of my contacts, so I decided to call the Plant Manager's office directly to see if there was any rationale for the change. I reached someone in the support staff and apprised him of the issue. No one seemed to know anything about the invisible borough. But, the nice guy I spoke with said he'd look into it.

Happily for folks who reside in our fantastic and diverse borough, all letters I've received that have been cancelled on or after December 17, 2012 have been cancelled with the reinstated QNS. Here are a couple of before-and-afters:

Brooklyn P&DC [AFCS] machine 1:
Triboro NY postmark, with and without Queens

Brooklyn P&DC [AFCS] machine 3:
Triboro NY postmark, with and without Queens

Brooklyn P&DC [AFCS] machine 6:
Triboro NY postmark, with and without Queens

Brooklyn P&DC [AFCS] machine 7: no 'before' example.
Triboro NY postmark, with Queens

Small details add up when it comes to serving folks. Unfortunately medium-sized cities across America are losing their postmarks, but hopefully my three letters .

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