Parking meter changes in Columbia haven't affected revenues yet

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COLUMBIA - Three months after parking meter hours changed in downtown Columbia, the city hasn't seen any significant changes in revenue.

The new hours came into effect on January 2. Parking meters are now enforced from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.The hours used to be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Columbia Public Works Public Information Specialist, Steven Sapp, said for the first two months of the changes, the department focused more on education than enforcement.

"I think for the first couple of months, the educational efforts paid off," Sapp said. "Then when we actually rolled over to those [hours], from an enforcement standpoint at the first of March, I think everybody was pretty used to it by then."

Since the city began enforcing the changes last month, Sapp said it's too soon to see any trends.

"What we may have seen so far is just a slight increase in the revenues, but again, it's way too early to tell. The months of January and February, like we talked about a little bit, really don't mean trending data for us because we were doing a lot of educational efforts at that time," Sapp said.

According to Sapp, the intention behind parking meters isn't to make money, but to create turnover so more people have a chance to visit more businesses.

"Parking meters and metered spaces are designed to do really one thing, and that's create turnover. That's what downtown businesses desire," Sapp said. "They need to have those parking spaces turnover so that their customers can come and go at various hours of the day."

Sapp said that there should be more data available by the end of the summer or early fall to be able to tell if the meters are making the city more money.