Columbia Star

Pay for parking with your phone



Add downtown parking and bus service to the list of things you can now buy with your smartphone or other mobile device.

This week, the City of Columbia launched an online parking program in collaboration with Passport, a Charlotte-based mobile app provider. The company’s Passport Parking App enables drivers to feed the meter or pay for additional time online.

The free app—available from the iPhone App Store and Google Play for Android—will be usable for all of the city’s 4,300 parking spaces in the downtown area.

Users can pay for parking through the app and get reminder notifications to add time to their meters. Passport also has a merchant validation program for business owners. Businesses can give out a validation code to customers or can authorize automatic validation through the app when a patron enters a participating business.

The company also has developed “Catch the Comet,” a mobile ticketing system for COMET bus riders. Passport collaborated with The COMET to give riders the option to pay for their fare through the phone app.

City Parking Director John Spade said the equipment parking staff uses to issue citations ties into the Passport system to monitor when a meter’s time has expired. Smartcards, tokens, and coins are still useable at the meters.

Officials said the only time you cannot refeed the meter is in designated areas like parts of Main Street.

The city’s parking meters will also display signage instructing users to download the app. Smartphone users can also use the new service by going to https:// m. to create their account.

Spade said the app will cut down on parking fines and should reduce the amount of coins collected, which is typically 84 tons per year.

About Passport

Passport is the industry-leading mobile payments company specializing in integrated urban mobility solutions. The company provides feature rich software platforms that offer parking and transit agencies a more effective and efficient way to manage their operations and serve their customers. Passport’s mobile payment systems are deployed in over 1,000 locations in 43 states and provinces across the US and Canada, with clients such as Chicago, Toronto and Boston.

Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Passport is backed by a highly respected group of investors, including Grotech Ventures and Relevance Capital. For more information, please visit

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