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      Columbia tests high tech parking meters

      Motorists in Downtown Columbia will soon get the chance to use their credit cards for parking meters.

      Columbia City Officials are testing two systems that accept payments with credit cards, debit cards and cell phones.

      The first test system starts operations on Monday on 9th Street.

      The second system gets underway in 2 weeks on Locust Street.

      After 90-day trial period, city officials will choose the best system for their customers.

      Under both systems, credit card users will be forced to pay for the maximum amount of time on a parking meter.

      Columbia Public Works Spokeswoman Jill Stedem said, â??With the pay by credit card, you will be required to pay for a two hour period of parking. You canâ??t just pay for fifteen minutes and come back because there are fees associated with that, that the city will have to absorb with credit card fees. The disadvantage is that you will have to pay for a two hour period of parking.â??

      Payment by cell phone will automatically add an extra charge to your phone bill.

      Stedem says motorists will always have the option of using coins or the cityâ??s EZ Park cards in Columbia parking meters.