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LET A DEBIT CARD BE YOUR CO-PILOT

DRIVING AROUND HOPELESSLY LOST IN A STRANGE CITY IS NO fun. There never seems to be a police officer nearby to help out, and stopping to ask strangers for directions can be risky. A New York-based startup has a simple solution.

Bolder Enterprises Inc. plans to slowly introduce its Travel & Safety Card. The idea is for travelers to buy the $10 ''debit'' card at a local convenience store or service station. If they get lost while traveling, they call the 24-hour 1 888-GOT-LOST hotline and give the operator the PIN code printed on their card, their current location (or a best guess as to where they are), and their destination. The operator then enters the information into Bolder's computers, which contain digital maps of the continental U.S. Each map is coded to include exact street addresses, landmarks, and other useful travel tidbits such as which streets are one-way. Bolder operators can then give callers exact directions to their destinations. The charge for each call, $1.50 for the first minute and 75 cents for each additional minute, is deducted from the card's prepaid account.

Robert Bolder, founder of the startup, says that during a one-month pilot program with 150 cards distributed in Boston, Detroit, New York, and Washington, most calls for help were solved in 5 to 10 minutes. At the moment, the Travel & Safety card is available only in New Jersey, but Bolder hopes to land a national distribution agreement soon that will roll it out across the U.S.

EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG


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Updated Oct. 23, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
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