A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority that Cincinnati-based First Transit filed in April, alleging it lost the county’s trolley contract because a "who’s who of Clearwater" lobbied the board to choose the less qualified Jolley Trolley.
The judge determined that First Transit’s claims did not have federal jurisdiction.
First Transit sued after a PSTA selection evaluation committee ranked its application the highest among three finalists but the board voted to hire Jolley Trolley instead.
Jolley Trolley has been running in North Pinellas County since 1982, and PSTA began subsidizing the company in 2009 without ever putting the contract out to bid.
The county transit authority advertised the contract for the first time in November 2016. It awarded the five-year, $15 million contract to Jolley Trolley in February after more than 40 people spoke in favor of the local firm at the board meeting.
In the lawsuit, First Transit said the board members’ statements proved "the coordinated efforts by Jolley Trolley to ensure its maximum impact were successful in influencing or swaying the board’s vote." It had asked the court to declare PSTA violated state and federal procurement laws and require that the county enter a contract with its firm.