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Kitsap Transit goes digital, drops the paper

Kitsap Transit is riding the digital wave and transitioning to a paperless reporting system. As of February, the transit agency had moved several of its departments to the new program.

The maintenance, inventory control and operations departments have all moved to the new digital system and other departments are scheduled to switch over in the near future.

Drivers use repair requests to communicate vehicle needs to the inventory control department. In the past, this was done by writing and filing between 15 and 60 reports each day. Now, all of those reports are sent and filed electronically.

Hayward Seymore, vehicles and facilities maintenance director, described the route a work order would take through Kitsap Transit, switching hands between more than half-a-dozen people before reaching an administrative assistant who would file it away for good.

“It (was) all quite cumbersome,” Seymore said. “Now it’s pretty streamlined.”

Under the old system Kitsap Transit’s facilities department generated about 1,600 work orders each week, all written in triplicate, according to Seymore.

That amounts to nearly 250,000 sheets of paper each year in work orders alone.

Spokesperson Cathie Knox-Browning said the paperless system makes Kitsap Transit more efficient in a number of ways.

“Instead of using files and filing cabinets and pieces of paper, the software replaces all of that,” Knox-Browning said. “(The software) significantly reduced the amount of staff time or people hours spent managing the paper.”

In the past Kitsap Transit was using two separate systems that weren’t able to communicate with each other, forcing employees to create thousands of work order forms. Seymore said transit was paying $7,000 for one software system and $6,000 for another.

Consolidating the two systems has allowed the agency to effectively cut the $6,000 cost entirely, as well as eliminate around $5,000 in printing fees according to Seymore.

Seymore used to have three administrative assistants dedicated to dealing with work-orders. He was able to reduce that to 1.5 because of the new system, saving the equivalent of 3,120 hours of staff time spent dealing with paperwork, he said.

He stressed that the changes were made through attrition, and that no one was fired to make way for the system.

Knox-Browning said Kitsap Transit first started talking about going paperless three years ago.

“We started working on a sustainability policy and then we started looking for grants,” Knox-Browning said.

In July of 2011, the transit board adopted a resolution to consolidate the agency’s management software in order to reduce the amount of unnecessary paperwork being generated.

Seymore helped submit the original resolution. The summary statement described the inefficiency of the former dual system.

“The existing software environment … obliges these departments to generate thousands of paper work-orders each year,” the statement said. “As a result, (Kitsap Transit) expends hundreds of personnel hours processing and filing these work orders and pays for printing fees along with $8,000 in annual support fees.”

In 2011, Kitsap Transit estimated the resolution would cost $70,000. When Kitsap Transit awarded the software contract to StarTran Software in February of 2012 the cost was increased to $82,000.

However, $56,000 of that amount was covered by a grant administered by the Federal Transportation Administration. Kitsap Transit budgeted $24,000 in matching funds to introduce the new system.

Knox-Browning said Kitsap Transit has been working to become “greener” over the last 5 to 7 years. Transit’s eventual goal is to have the entire facilities department using the paperless system.

Seymore said he anticipates the entire department will be using the paperless system by the end of the year.

 

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