Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The City of Rochester has won another round in the drawn-out legal battle over the contract to operate the city’s public transit system.

Winona County Judge Jeffrey Thompson issued a ruling earlier this week dismissing claims made by Rochester City Lines that the bidding process used to award the contract to First Transit in 2012 was biased. The judge’s rejected those claims and found there was no evidence presented in trial showing a secret arrangement or conspiracy involving First Transit and the city in ruling the city did not award the contract in an arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable manner.

Rochester City Lines, which had held the contract for operating the city’s bus system for decades, is expected to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Supreme Court is preparing to hear an appeal of a ruling issued by the State Court of Appeals that nullified the city’s current contract with First Transit, which was awarded to the firm late last year. The appellate court ruled the mere appearance of the potential for bias on the selection committee invalidated the bidding process used by the city.

It will be the second time the State Supreme Court has had to deal with the legal fight over Rochester’s public transit system contract. In 2014, the High Court issued the ruling that led to this week’s decision by the Winona County Judge. After two lower courts dismissed the Rochester City Lines lawsuit over the 2012 contract, the High Court decided a trial was needed to determine whether there was any bias in the bidding process.

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