Color-coded meters could simplify downtown parking

Friday, February 8, 2013 | 6:33 p.m. CST; updated 7:16 a.m. CST, Monday, February 11, 2013
A red-painted parking meter along Ash and Eighth Street indicates the maximum parking time of one hour.

COLUMBIA — Columbia motorists parking downtown will soon be able to identify meters with different time limits based on a new color-coding system. 

Existing meters will be painted according to their maximum parking time as follows: 24-minute meters will be painted yellow; one-hour meters will be painted red; two-hour meters will be painted gray; four-hour meters will be painted purple; five-hour meters will be painted orange; and 10-hour meters will be painted green.


Yellow = 24 minutes

Red = One hour

Gray = Two hours

Purple = Four hours

Orange = Five hours

Green = 10 hours


The meters are being painted in order, from the least common time limit to the most common. The one-hour meters, which are fewest in number, have already been painted red. The city plans to complete the project by Aug. 1. 

The Downtown Parking Task Force, appointed by Mayor Bob McDavid and City Manager Mike Matthes, proposed the color-coded meters at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting, Columbia Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said. The proposal was approved because it provided an immediate positive impact for a low cost, he said.

“It’s a matter of customer service,” Sapp said. “If someone says, ‘I need to park for 10 hours,’ and sees a red meter, they’ll know right away that they can only park there for one hour.”

The painting will be completed by city staff as time allows, avoiding labor costs for the project. Material costs have yet to be determined. 

City workers will temporarily remove the meters, paint them in a work area in the parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets, and return them, Sapp said. Spare meters will replace them until the painting is complete. 

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