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Shipping Costs in Rural Alaska Go Up

By Mallory Peebles, Crime and Law Enforcement, Natural Resources and Parks Reporter, Fill-in Anchor,
Published On: Jan 31 2014 06:31:31 PM AKST
Updated On: Jan 31 2014 06:37:46 PM AKST

The cost of living in rural Alaska is going up after the United State Postal Service has increased certain shipping rates. The rate changes are now in effect nationwide. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski's  (R-Alaska) office confirmed Friday that that bypass mail rates have increased by 6.75 percent. Bypass mail is an economical freight service offered by USPS for bulk shipments to rural communities. Packages are flown by various air carriers within the state. 

Parcel post has also been eliminated and replaced by standard post, according to Murkowski's office.

A 17-pound packages now cost 4.9 percent more; a 25-pound package jumped by 22 percent; and the new rates for a 50-pound are as much as 52.7 percent greater.

Channel 2 News reached out to the Alaska office of the postal service, but calls were not returned. 

General store owner in Aniak, Jim McKenzie, said the rate increases will be felt in many rural communities. 

"It's a real fine line that you're trying to stay in business with," said McKenzie. "Things like that can really hurt a small place."

Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said he has already sent the United States Postmaster General a letter expressing his outrage over the lack of notice before these changes.

"Last time they tried they tried to close 80-plus post offices that were in rural Alaska and we dragged the post master into our offices and I laid down what I thought was a rational argument and at the end of the day we kept the 30 plus post offices open," Begich said.

Murkowksi’s office issued the following statement about the issue. 

“This nationwide price change is a symptom of the difficult financial condition of the United States Postal Service, struggling to compete in the digital age. But I am concerned that this change does not strike the right balance between keeping the Postal Service—which derives all its revenue from postal sales—solvent and ensuring that Alaskans continue to have access to efficient and affordable mail service.”