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Appeals Court Invalidates Rochester’s Public Transit Contract

Rochester City Lines bus
photo by Andy Brownell/Townsquare Media

St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) – The Minnesota Court of Appeals has a nullified the city’s current contract with First Transit for running Rochester’s public transit system.

The ruling in favor of Rochester City Lines is connected to the long running legal fight over the city’s decision to award the contract to First Transit in 2012. It had been held for decades by RCL, which went to court five years ago with claims the bid selection process was biased.

5 of the 8 members of the committee that was appointed to rank the bids last year were also involved in the 2012 process, prompting a protest from RCL, which was denied by the moderator hired by the city to oversee the bidding process, saying it was both “rational and reasonable” to include them even though the 2012 case has yet to be resolved. In its ruling handed down Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found the mere appearance of the potential of bias on the selection committee invalidates the bidding process used by the city in awarding the 5-year contract to First Transit.

At this point, the impact of the ruling is unclear with the city likely to consider appealing the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the original lawsuit over the 2012 bidding process is scheduled to go to trial next week at the Winona County Courthouse. Rochester City Lines is expected to call a number of city officials to the witness stand as it attempts to convince the court the bidding process was biased against the company.

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