Boston switches to Xerox app for parking tickets as TicketZen retools

Boston Parking Tickets

Drivers in Boston are getting a new way to settle their parking tickets with a smartphone.

The city has started using PayTix, an app developed by Xerox Corp., to accept mobile payments for parking violations. The app uses a phone’s camera to scan a barcode and settles the fines after a user enters their payment-card information.

PayTix replaces a similar app from TicketZen, a local startup that was first selected for a pilot project in September 2014. The city later extended its contract with TicketZen for 2015, but the small company made “a business decision to focus on other products” in November, the city said Thursday.

TicketZen was a spinout of Terrible Labs, an app development agency that was acquired in 2014 by design-software company Autodesk Inc. The TicketZen app no longer appears in Apple’s iOS mobile app store, and the company’s Twitter account has answered service complaints by saying the app isn’t working properly with the latest version of Apple’s operating system.

Joe Lind, a TicketZen cofounder, said the former Terrible Labs team is still working on the app even though they’ve all moved on to new jobs. The startup plans to update the app for Apple’s mobile platform, he said.

“We’re still focused on a few other key cities and are excited to expand the core product into new markets,” Lind said.

Unlike some other cities where TicketZen processes payments, Boston’s contract with the startup did not pay TicketZen for its service, city officials said. Consumers also weren’t charged an extra fee for the mobile service, paying only a standard processing fee for handling credit-card transactions, the city said. TicketZen has charged consumers a transaction fee in some other cities.

The free contract with TicketZen was arranged in part because the city is already paying Xerox to handle a broad suite of parking software and services, but wasn’t initially satisfied with Xerox’s mobile offering, Carter said. Xerox has since improved that service, making it easier to switch, he said.

City officials said TicketZen processed more than 2,100 payments per month, showing that consumers wanted the service continued.

“This is not about swapping out a startup for an established company in our minds,” said Kris Carter from the city’s office of New Urban Mechanics. “We have a great relationship with the folks at TicketZen, and they did a really fantastic job. It was really a mutual decision to go different ways.”

Boston’s parking-ticket app is one of several services the city now offers for smartphone users, including the ability to pay at curbside meters, track trash pickup schedules, and report non-emergency service requests.