Job Description: Transit Authority Locksmith

Transit authority locksmiths primarily establish and maintain master key systems while issuing keys and keeping related records.


Transit authorities are public agencies formed by cities, counties and states to acquire and then operate and maintain transportation (buses, rails, street cars, etc.). State, county and city laws establish transit authorities for the convenience and safety of the public. The state and local...


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Key rings are issued by the type of job a person is assigned to. Whether it is a custodian, rail inspector, or train operator, there is a specific ring and usually with a lot of controlled and uncontrolled keys.

Controlled keys are those that are specifically assigned to individuals and by nature they can be controlled. These are door keys or other high-priority keys where the key blank stock is restricted or patented, therefore controllable.

Uncontrolled keys are those where it is impossible to eliminate unauthorized duplication. As an example common cabinets may be locked with a simple cam lock. The face of the cam lock is stamped 1250.

The key blanks are not restricted regarding this key and anyone can get this key made by local key shops just be referencing the number.

In transit authorities there are hundreds of different types of uncontrolled keys.

There will be at least a couple of hundred uncontrolled keys cut at the shop each day.

In addition to key fabrication and duplication, there are significant numbers of record changes that need to be performed daily:

People transfer or terminate and each event generates record changes.

Keys are swapped and the transaction needs to be recorded.

Each controlled key issued requires a new record be appended to the database.

To complete the task, meaningful reports need to be distributed regarding key control additions or changes.

To accomplish services in a timely manner, locks, parts, and key blanks need to be stocked.

An ordering system usually is integrated into the departmental software so that the tracking of service calls and key issuance will generate a needed list of materials.

Transit authorities usually have universal store areas where common items can be automatically stocked and drawn from by the locksmith.

A typical item might be interchangeable cores. Instead of the locksmith stocking hundreds of cores in the lock shop, the universal store can maintain a specified number of cores. When a designated minimum quantity of cores is reached, the cores are automatically ordered for the locksmith.

Other common items stocked by the universal store might be locksets, panic bars, key blanks, padlocks, etc.

Transit authorities whenever possible log all activities into the companies' databases.

Much of the locksmith's activities are captured in the companies' database.

Receiving, dispatching, and reconciling service requests are usually tied into such databases.

Other activities like pinning lock cylinders and cores or recording the status of keys is best left to specialized software designed for the locksmith industry.

The Transit authority locksmith spends a great deal of time working with both the companies' databases and specialized software. In addition to working with software, the locksmith will use email and the Internet throughout the day.

Email is used to clarify service requests, notify employees when keys are ready for pickup, and sending reports to management.

Almost all manufacturers offer web equivalents of: catalogs, cut sheets, exploded views, and product alerts relating to door and locking hardware.

The distributors that cater to institutional locksmiths make available web tools that streamline the ordering process.

There is plenty of opportunity for the locksmith to design and then fabricate custom locks and devices that meet the special needs of the transit authority.

For example, a transit authority had the need to secure portable toilets so that drivers could use have exclusive use of the facilities when traveling along bus routes. The locksmith for the transit authority came up with an elegant solution. A surface-mounted case was designed to accommodate an Adams-Rite mortise latch. A hole was drilled through the plastic door for the mortise cylinder then the case was mounted using through-bolts.

Once installed the toilet door becomes self-latching and can be secured with a standard mortise cylinder.

Another example found a transit authority looking for different means to secure padlocks to chain-link fences.

Those padlock retainers and chains offered by the manufacturer were not durable enough to handle the abuse dished out in an urban environment.

Heavier chain was needed but there wasn't a good means to retain it to the padlock.

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