Columbia drivers can now pay for parking with a phone app

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COLUMBIA - Parking meters equipped with the new parking software "Parkmobile" launched Monday morning.

The Parkmobile meters are labeled with a green sticker. These meters give customers the option to pay for parking with coins, credit card or over their phone with an app.

Columbia Resident Audrey Sharp said she was excited to learn about this new payment option.

"For me it's a big change," Sharp said. "Because I think when I come downtown, if I don't want to have to leave my computer somewhere, or leave a lunch meeting to change the meter, I think it's helpful to be able to do it right from my phone."

On the Parkmobile app, customers will be able to receive reminder notifications of their phone when their time is running out. They can also add more time to their meter from their phone, which will save them a trip back outside.

Columbia resident Jay Parks said although he does not have a smart phone, he is glad the city is giving people more options to pay for parking.

"This morning I saw this girl trying to get a quarter for her meter," Parks said. "I could tell she was digging for a quarter. She had to run all over looking for one. It was a hastle."

Columbia's Parkmobile project first began in 2012, after a public works study stated people would like the city to offer more ways to pay for parking meters, besides just coins. Public works installed several new meters downtown that offered a credit card payment option in 2014. Later that year, the city council approved public work's proposal to begin using the Parkmobile app.

As of now, the only Parkmobile meters are only on Ninth Street between Broadway and University Avenue, and on Broadway between Eighth Street and Tenth Street. However, public works says it is looking to expand the Parkmobile projects in other parts of downtown Columbia.

Although Parkmobile services do not cost the city any money to maintain, the app requires meters that are new enough to handle electronic payment. Public works says many of the meters downtown are too old to work with the app, so in order to expand Parkmobile, it must first update the meters.