With fuel prices going through the roof, budgets for public transportation systems are tight enough already. It doesn’t help when keys to the buses’ fare boxes – and the money inside those fare boxes – seem to walk away.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently faced just such a problem. Keys were being lost or stolen, and a review of the collection reports indicated that a significant amount of money – mostly bills – was not making it to the bank.
Although there was no way to detect if the missing keys were being used to raid the fare boxes, their absence provided a wide hole in loss prevention efforts. Re-keying the boxes with conventional locks might provide a temporary fix to the problem, but that would last only until the next key was misplaced or stolen. Plus, the security of the system again would be compromised.
The real dilemma was determining if the losses were a result of missing keys, or if issued keys were being used to breach the fare boxes.
Transit officials formed a task force to analyze fare-box security. The task force’s primary concern was the ease with which a conventional key could be duplicated. The task force also discovered that a fare box could be rigged to appear locked; then, when using the right technique, it could be “popped” open and then closed without any visible signs of entry.
Smart key and lock system
The task force investigated the Videx CyberLock smart key and lock system and found that it addressed all of the transit authority’s concerns. The battery-powered key remembers what locks have been opened and when. The lock, in turn, stores the same information, providing a check and balance.
The system also provides the ability to regulate when the lock could or could not be opened, and by whom. If a key is lost or stolen, the locks can be told to refuse access to the key.
Although Videx was not offering a CyberLock fare-box lock at the time, the task force worked with Videx engineers to adapt the system to Cleveland RTA’s fare boxes. Videx came up with a replacement for its old mechanical locking system. The replacement not only provided the added security of a computerized locking system but, coupled with a spring hook-latch system, it also improved the mechanical security of the fare box.
After installing CyberLock, initial reviews indicated a marked improvement in the bill-to-coin collection ratio. Employee accountability improved as supervisors now could track how much time was being spent on each fare-box repair. Spot inspections by the Greater Cleveland RTA Police Department have found no incidences of unauthorized access with the CyberLock system.
“The bottom line is that the collected revenue ratio has increased and employee productivity has improved,” transit police officer Sgt. Scott Medlong said. “The CyberLock system works for us at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.”
Videx Inc. provided this case history.