A new online system has made auto rentals from Transportation Services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Called “Keyosk” — a play-on-words as the kiosk system dispenses keys — the online vehicle dispatch service was made possible by linking existing UNL systems to a computerized cabinet developed by a private vendor. The system is a marked improvement over old rental methods that were only available 8 a.m to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Patrick Barrett, director of Transportation Services, said the Keyosk system can put returned vehicles back on the road in as little as 15 minutes.
“Under the old system, vehicles returned after hours were unavailable until we opened on the next business day,” said Barrett. “Now, vehicles are available any time. This new system increases the availability of our vehicle fleet. It also improves the level of service we offer campus.”
The Keyosk system was developed by SafePak Corp., a Portland, Ore., based company that specializes in electronic key controls, bank deposit options and electronic lockers.
The system features an electronic cabinet with a computerized touchscreen, driver’s license scanner and individual compartments that hold keys behind locked doors.
The Keyosk cabinets are available in motor pool dispatch rooms located on City and East campuses. Access to the rooms is granted by scanning a valid NCard.
Approved campus drivers can make vehicle reservation requests online at http://transportation.unl.edu. A request takes 15 minutes to process, transitioning from the online system through UNL’s motor pool module and into the Keyosk computer.
Barrett credited Conrad Engel, a software systems architect with Shared Services, for developing the software that allows the two systems to communicate.
“Conrad was key in getting this system running,” Barrett said. “He also built the secure system for making an online reservation.”
The Keyosk cabinet links a scan of a driver’s license to the reservation. Renters are prompted to answer a few questions on the Keyosk touch panel before a door opens, allowing access to the reserved vehicle’s key and gas credit card.
Returns are similar, starting with entering requested information on the touchscreen and ending with the driver locking the key and gas card inside a Keyosk cabinet compartment.
Drivers are required to fuel returned vehicles and must remove their trash and items. Additional fees are charged if the fueling and cleaning are not completed.
“The system does remind you to remove trash and personal items. It also asks if you refueled the vehicle,” said Barrett. “Those are both steps our employees would complete under the old system. But, to make vehicles available 24/7, we are asking renters to complete it now.”
As rentals are no longer full service, Barrett said rental rates were reduced by 40 percent when the Keyosk system was installed for testing on March 1. In the first three months of use, vehicle utilization increased 14 percent and rentals increased 4 percent.
“Overall, the response to this new system has been positive,” Barrett said.
For more information on the Keyosk rental system, go to http://transportation.unl.edu/.