City of Madison Metro Transit Adds Vehicle Key Accountability

Installation of CaptureTech’s KeyConductor leads to time and cost savings

Background
The City of Madison Metro Transit (Metro) operates a transit system serving Madison, WI and surrounding towns. Metro offers all residents a convenient, eco-friendly option for traveling around the city of Madison. Its fleet of vehicles includes 215 buses, 2 paratransit vehicles, and about 30 staff vehicles used to relieve drivers at transfer points. Metro personnel are responsible for maintaining each vehicle so that it meets FTA standards, relieving drivers when necessary using staff vehicles, and ensuring that the appropriate people have the right keys to do so.

Challenges
Madison Metro needed a system for securing vehicle keys that ensured the right personnel had access to the right keys at the right time. Previously, each key had been stored hanging loosely on a pegboard in the office. This meant anyone could take any key at any time without any accountability. Keys would easily become unaccounted for, and there was no way to track who had taken which key, or when they had taken it.

With strict timelines and bus schedules, spending time looking for keys would cause delays. For example, when a driver needs to be relieved at a certain transfer point at a certain time, trying to find the appropriate key for a staff vehicle could stall operations. Mechanics also needed access to keys to conduct regular maintenance to ensure vehicles meet strict standards. If mechanics are unable to perform maintenance, the vehicles could be removed from service – causing even more system delays. In addition, without the ability to track keys, the organization increased its risk for additional, unanticipated replacement costs.

The transit service explored both RFID key tags and WiFi key tags as a solution, but found that both technologies failed to work as soon as they were out of range or lost internet access. These technologies would not be appropriate for a fleet of traveling vehicles, nor add the necessary layer of accountability to successfully track keys.

Solution
Chue Lor, the general maintenance supervisor, and Jeff Butler, general maintenance manager, were introduced to CaptureTech’s KeyConductor key management system by Fastenal in 2017. The KeyConductor key management system includes electronic key storage cabinets and key management software. The cabinets, or lockers, can be accessed by personal identifications numbers (PINs) or swipe cards, and is scalable to include up to thousands of keys. When a user enters their PIN, the system unlocks only the key that is assigned to that user, keeping the rest of the keys secure and accounted for.

After internal discussions, Metro decided to work with Fastenal and CaptureTech to implement the solution. Over the following three months, the electronic key cabinet was built and installed on site.

To manage the system, Metro chose CaptureTech’s CaptureCloud Software as a Services (SaaS) solution. CaptureCloud has a wide range of capabilities and provides real-time data, meaning key inventory is always up-to-date. Managers can easily assign keys to specific employees for a particular date and time, reserve keys, and track who has which key too, adding layers of control and accountability that management did not have before. Managers can also remove a certain user in an instant, to ensure that only approved personnel have access to keys. Personnel can access the keys they needed automatically, while keeping accurate data about who was checking out each key, without the need for on-site supervision.

When the technology was deployed, the CaptureTech team was available to support Metro in its transition from its old system to the new one. CaptureTech was able to access the technology remotely through cellular data to quickly and effectively solve issues, getting Metro’s key management solution up and running smoothly.

Results
The KeyConductor system allowed users to enter their PIN in order to access the cabinet and unlock the specific keys they need. The system software offered accurate, real-time reporting system that allowed supervisors, drivers and maintenance personnel to keep track and find keys when necessary. Personnel could see which keys were in the lockers, which keys were out, who had each key, when they accessed it and how long the keys had been out. This visibility means Metro is
able to account for the locations of all its keys, and drivers and maintenance staff have access to the necessary keys where and when they are needed.