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New Parking Meters Coming to Columbia

Travis Meier

  Visitors to downtown Columbia will be able to keep their change soon. Downtown Columbia will be adding more parking meters that are payable by smartphone app. The Parkmobile app allows drivers to pay a meter by credit card or PayPal. 

Public Works spokesperson Barry Dalton said the city will make every meter downtown accessible through Parkmobile by the end of this fall. There is no set date.

“Those new meters will allow customers to use coins, the city’s prepaid parking card, or the Parkmobile app,” Dalton said.

This mobile parking system was first launched on Aug. 17, 2015, in small areas in Columbia. The decision to expand the app to downtown came on Aug. 12, 2016.

The app links to a card, bank account, or PayPal account. Payment through Parkmobile involves two additional charges: a 35 cent user fee to Parkmobile and a 10 cent transaction fee. The city used to pay the 10 cent transaction fee, but an amendment to the agreement with Parkmobile by the City Council placed the fee on the user to take the burden off the city, Dalton said.

While adding the app to metered spaces will not require a physical change, a complete replacement of all 1,450 downtown meters is set to take place over the next three years. Dalton said the old meters are deteriorating and need constant repair. He said the changes will happen as funding is made available through Parking Services.

Cole Hayden, a Parkmobile user, said he finds the app convenient. He has been using the meters for the past week while his bike has been broken.

“It’s really nice because they, like, let you know… when your time is being, like, used up,” Hayden said.

According to the Parkmobile website, the app pairs your license plate with the parking number on the Parkmobile sign. Enforcement checks these two numbers to make sure the meter has been paid. However, the mobile payment may be harder to check than standard meters.

“Sometimes I’ve parked and not paid anything, and I have not gotten a ticket,” Hayden said.

Parkmobile meters are currently tagged on select streets throughout Columbia with a bright green sticker.

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