Ride-share fee could benefit Five Points station, Gwinnett transit center

MARTA plans to apply for a federal grant to help pay for its $150 million renovation of Five Points station. (File photo by Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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MARTA plans to apply for a federal grant to help pay for its $150 million renovation of Five Points station. (File photo by Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Money from Georgia’s ride-sharing fee could benefit two metro Atlanta transit projects this year.

The Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority approved plans Thursday to use some of the fee money to match federal grant applications for MARTA’s Five Points station renovation and an expanded transit center at Gwinnett Place Mall.

Two years ago, the General Assembly approved a 50-cent fee for ride-hailing trips by companies such as Uber and Lyft, plus a 25-cent fee for shared rides. The fee originally was projected to generate $40 million a year.

That hasn’t panned out because of the coronavirus pandemic. The fee initially generated about $7.6 million, and last year lawmakers dedicated $6 million of the money to MARTA’s Bankhead station renovation.

The fee has generated about $25.7 million in additional money over the past two years, and about $15.75 million will be used for transit projects in metro Atlanta.

On Thursday the transit authority — known as the ATL Board — approved plans to use up to $11.25 million of that money as a local match as MARTA applies for federal funding of its Five Points renovation. The agency could seek as much as $45 million in federal grant money for the $150 million renovation, which MARTA hopes to complete in time for the 2026 World Cup soccer semifinal game in Atlanta.

The ATL Board also approved plans to use $2 million of the ride-share money to match Gwinnett County’s application for an $8 million federal grant to expand its Gwinnett Place transit center.

Transit funding director Jonathan Ravenelle told the board that using the ride-share fee money as a local match could allow the region to take full advantage of the $107 billion in transit funding included in the five-year bipartisan infrastructure law that President Joe Biden signed in the fall.