A trip by Uber or Lyft to the Charleston International Airport now costs $3.25 more than before.
The change, which took effect Tuesday, comes as the airport says it could use the additional revenue to pay for all the extra traffic past the terminal brought by the ride-hailing transportation services.
The extra few dollars will be built into rides to the airport in each of the platforms' mobile apps. The transportation companies charge the passenger for the fee, then pay the airport its dues in turn. These charges are common at airports, but Charleston's price increase makes it one of the region's highest.
The airport already charges a $3.50 fee to be picked up from Charleston International, which brings the Charleston County Aviation Authority roughly $900,000 a year. The new drop-off fee would add about $836,000 in revenue.
Charleston airport officials have said the added fee will help to pay for a new, $3 million parking lot specifically for the transportation providers. Taxis will also use the 200-space lot.
The airport has seen about 30 percent growth annually in riders using Uber and Lyft, Aviation Authority Finance Director Doug Boston told The Post and Courier.
Uber and Lyft both contested the rule, which the Aviation Authority approved Sept. 19.
In a letter before the vote, Uber asked the Aviation Authority to postpone their decision until a ground transportation study is completed. The company also questioned why its customers had to pay for a lot that taxis would also use.
"Riders will bear the overwhelming majority of the cost for this shared space," an Uber business development manager wrote.
A Lyft business director expressed the same concern about "fee parity" in a similar letter. The new costs could hurt Lyft's business at the Charleston airport, wrote Bakari Brock, the Lyft representative.
"In Charleston, Lyft contributes to a strong, business- and consumer-friendly economy where both residents and visitors benefit by relying on rideshare service," Brock said. "Our riders tell us that convenience and price is a key factor when deciding to choose rideshare transportation."
The Aviation Authority's decision puts Charleston International Airport's fees in line with the much larger Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which charges $3.25 for both pickup and drop-off.