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Small Manufacturer Looks to ‘Revolutionize’ Parking

March 17, 1995

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Vincent Yost wants to kill one of life’s little joys _ finding a parking spot with time left on the meter.

The suburban Philadelphia entrepreneur is testing meters that erase leftover time when a car pulls out of a spot. The meters use infrared sensors and lithium-powered computer chips to ``see″ parking spaces.

``There’s nothing free about it,″ Yost says proudly. The goal is for towns to boost parking revenue without raising rates.

Yost says merchants will learn to love his meters because they prevent meter feeding, increasing turnover. ``If the time limit is up and the car hasn’t moved, the meter will take the money, but it won’t add any more time,″ he says.

And in another diabolical twist, a meter reader can tap the meter’s memory with a hand-held device and obtain a record of how long it has been since an expired meter was last fed.

``No more running up and saying, `It just ran out,‴ Yost says.

His company, Intelligent Devices Inc., tested six prototypes in suburban Lower Merion Township last fall. During the six-week test, Yost says, the average weekly take per meter rose to $44 from $12.45 at one site and to $66.75 from $35.67 at another.

Yost concedes that his units will be more expensive than standard parking meters, which run $175 to $250. He has not set a price.

Yost says he is gearing up to build 200 prototypes for tests later this year, and dozens already have been accepted for tests by municipalities ranging in size from New York City to New Hope, Pa., population 1,400.

``This town pays its bills from the parking meters and parking tickets,″ says New Hope zoning officer Bob Rynkiewicz. ``The borough council was pretty enthusiastic about it.″

Some merchants oppose the meters, says Sandy Moreno, a jewelry shop owner who is circulating a petition to call off the test, scheduled to begin in May.

``It’s going to turn a lot of people off,″ Moreno says, referring to the thousands of tourists from New York and Philadelphia who pour in on weekends to patronize New Hope’s antiques and crafts shops, bars and restaurants.

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