City of Madison Metro Transit Saves Time and Cuts Costs with Vehicle Key Management System

The City of Madison Metro Transit knows the feeling that we’ve all experienced at some point—the feeling you get when you can’t find your keys and have somewhere to be.

Metro Transit operates an affordable, accessible transit system that serves Madison, Wisconsin, and the surrounding towns, residential neighborhoods, schools, and universities. Their fleet includes 215 buses, two paratransit vehicles, and approximately 30 staff vehicles used to relieve drivers at transfer points.

So, when someone on the team can’t find their keys, it’s a major problem.

Metro Transit personnel are responsible for maintaining vehicles at approved standards, and meeting other drivers for relief at transfer points. If they can’t get the right keys for the vehicle that needs work, that bus won’t get back to the fleet on time. If they can’t find the right keys for the staff vehicle needed to meet a bus and relieve a driver, they won’t be punctual for that exchange.

If they can’t find their keys, everyone who relies on the buses will have their schedule disrupted.

Metro Transit was in search of a system for securing vehicle keys that ensured the right personnel had access to the right keys at the right time.

Technology Challenges

The previous process for procuring a Metro Transit vehicle key was simple—grab it off the peg board in the office.

There was no accountability for the keys—anyone could take any key at any time and keys were often getting lost. There was no way to track who had which key, or when, which caused many delays. It was also costing them valuable employee time with, on average, two staffers spending two hours per day managing keys, which equates to 1,456 hours each year.

“It was an archaic system prone to errors,” said Guy Alon, product manager for CaptureTech.

Fleet vehicles weren’t returning to service on time because mechanics were delayed as they searched for the right key to perform maintenance operations. Drivers weren’t arriving at transfer points on time to relieve other drivers because of time wasted locating the key for the appropriate staff vehicle. With no way to track the keys and, aside from the obvious security issues, Metro Transit was incurring an increased risk for additional, unexpected replacement costs.

While RFID key tags and WiFi Key tags were explored, they experienced limitations in network reach and they simply weren’t suitable for a fleet of traveling vehicles.

Enter the KeyConductor Solution

CaptureTech implemented the KeyConductor key management system, including electronic key storage cabinets and key management software, which was installed on-site for Metro Transit over a three-month period.

The key storage cabinets are essentially lockers that can be accessed by personal identification numbers (PINs) or swipe cards, and are scalable to include thousands of keys. Introduced to CaptureTech’s system by Fastenal in 2017, Metro Transit opted for the KeyConductor system because it was easy to see how it would elevate their operation.

When a user enters their PIN, the system unlocked only the key assigned to that user, keeping the remaining keys secure and accounted for. To manage the system, Metro Transit chose CaptureTech’s CaptureCloud Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which provided real-time data on key inventory, allowed managers to assign and reserve keys for specific employees at specific times, and track the keys once they’ve been checked out.

“The biggest challenge was providing a seamless solution that was effectively plug-and-play,” Alon said. “We navigated our way through that by using our cloud solution, CaptureCloud. Instead of relying on their network or infrastructure, the KeyConductor system connects via cellular Cradlepoint back to our cloud server.”

CaptureTech also provided ongoing technical support as Metro Transit transitioned to the new system, helping to quickly and effectively solve any issues as they arose, which made for a smooth conversion.

Results

With the increased visibility provided by the CaptureTech KeyConductor system, Metro Transit was able to maintain knowledge of the location of all of its keys. Additionally, drivers and maintenance staffers were able to easily access the keys they needed when they needed them and the security offered by the PIN system provided an added layer of assurance for Metro Transit supervisors.

The impact was immense. In the first year of utilizing the KeyConductor system, Metro Transit saved approximately $30,000 on one bus dept alone and minimized their overtime spent managing keys.

With real-time key tracking data available, Metro Transit reduced the risk of unexpected replacement costs and saved valuable labor hours previously spent searching for keys, and the disruptions caused by key location were minimized.

Learn more about CaptureTech’s KeyConductor system.

Download the full case study PDF