From The Blog

Island Access for Uber, Lyft and Other Car Services

It’s common for members and guests who don’t want to make the long drive back from town or the Charleston airport to book a ride using Uber or Lyft to return to their island home or vacation spot. Then there’s car services and taxis, which are still popular. While all these businesses can operate on the island, there is a difference in the way they deal with island access.

Several weeks ago, we highlighted how commercial access works on the island. Then we noted that “each commercial entity working on the island is responsible for paying commercial access fees, by obtaining a single day gate pass (rates are $12 for 4-wheel vehicles, $25 for 6 wheels, and $55 for over 6) or an annual vehicle decal (rates start at $170) before access to the island is granted.” The driver of any vehicle entering the island with paid passengers (limos, taxis, car services, and ride-hailing services) without an annual decal is responsible for paying a $12 fee in order to gain access to the island. 

Some companies have chosen to proactively address commercial access fees to minimize this inconvenience. For example, Uber signed an access agreement with KICA in 2017. This agreement means that Uber pays a monthly fee, which provides their drivers access to the island. An Uber only needs to stop at the gate and show that they have a pickup/drop off on the island. They are not charged individually for entry. This is true for KICA members, member guests or renters on the island.

While some taxi and limo services have annual commercial decals, no other ride-hailing service has entered into such an agreement with KICA, which has caused some confusion. Like other commercial businesses, the driver is responsible for paying for their gate access by default. Drivers who aren’t familiar with Kiawah’s gate access policies may be unprepared and unwilling to pay. 

For example, Lyft does not have this agreement with KICA, so their drivers are charged the $12 commercial access fee for entry when they pass through the gate for a pickup or dropoff. Even if a member is in the vehicle for drop off, because the Lyft vehicle is conducting commercial activity, the fee must be paid. As with any other commercial fee, if the driver refuses to pay, the Security team may contact the member. If the member agrees to pay, the $12 fee will be charged to the member’s account. No commercial vehicles, including car services, taxis and ride-hailing services, may be authorized under member guest passes.