Downtown Columbia has a very vital and growing business district, and municipal Parking Utility is a critical component to that growth. There are five multi-level parking garages in downtown Columbia. The five facilities have a total of 1,882 parking spaces.
In addition to these off-street facilities, the city has 10 additional off-street surface lots in the downtown business district available. These offer a total of 535 off-street parking spaces; 138 of those off-street spaces are metered parking. Additionally, the Utility maintains 1,683 meters on-street. Finally, scattered throughout the entire downtown business district, there are 71 disabled access parking spaces.
The Parking Utility maintains all of these facilities, surface lots, and street meters. This includes preventive maintenance, repairs as necessary, and daily housekeeping. The Utility also administers the sale of monthly, quarterly and annual permits to a portion of those available parking spaces. The on-street and surface lot meters are all individual, electronic or mechanical meters.
The hourly spaces at Seventh and Walnut Garage are currently a "ticket and attendant" system. A ticket is obtained and displayed upon entrance to the facility, then after the fact, payment is made to an attendant upon departure.
The remaining parking garages utilize pay machines that use a payment in advance concept, with the exception of 8th and Cherry which has parking meters at each hourly space. The payment machines are located at the facility exits. A patron is required to take note of their parking space as they park, then pay the machine for that space for the anticipated period that they will be parked there. Like any other metered system, if their stay in the downtown area becomes longer than anticipated, the patron needs to go back to the garage and increase their payment for the space, prior to their original payment's expiration.