Parking Meter Payment Options Unclear

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COLUMBIA - Using your phone to pay for parking is convenient, simple, and a way to avoid finding that neon slip wedged between windshield wipers - the dreaded parking ticket.

While the City of Columbia boasted about the option to pay for parking through your cell phone - the reality, is only half true. For now.

As part of Columbia's pilot project for Ninth Street parking meters, the city is testing two types of payment systems - multi-space and single-space systems, each manufactured by different companies.

A public works department news release, dated February 6, stated: "Both types of systems will be in place for a period of 90 days. The test will allow city staff and the Parking Task Force to measure the benefit of paying by credit card and cell phone, as well as the willingness of patrons to go to a multi-space system verses single-space meters."

The current problem is, only the multi-space meters have the capability of accepting cell phone payment. Futhermore, directions for activating the phone payment option - on the city's website - are wrong. The directions posted apply to a different meter system Digital Payment Technologies makes - not the systems currently in Columbia. Park Mobile, on the other hand, is the go-to app for the multi-space meters.

Park Mobile is a mobile app that allows users to activate their parking session by typing in information, including a parking space number and license tag number. Then, users will receive a text 15 minutes prior to the meter running out.

The city said the single-space system creator, IPS Group, Inc., is waiting on Park Mobile to send it the mobile app. The app is slated for availability sometime next week.

City officials reiterated that these new meters are only part of a 90-day test period.