Bus Rider Sues City Council Over Its Involvement With Rail

City bus rider and rail supporter Hannah Miyamoto filed a class-action lawsuit against the Honolulu City Council last month for its involvement in the rail project.

The 40-page complaint alleges that the City Council’s actions, specif- ically those that could delay or stop the project, are discriminatory toward people of color and the working poor.

The complaint alleges that the state and the city have a history of directing road improvement projects to neighborhoods with “the least members of disadvantaged minority groups, while refusing to significantly improve tran- sit services into neighborhoods in which members of disadvantaged minority groups and working middle-class people are concentrated.”

Miyamoto asserts that the rail system could provide easier access to the economic opportunities in downtown Honolulu for West side communities including Waipahu, Ewa Beach and the Leeward Coast.

“Looking at the race and ethnicity balance, you have to wonder, was there some intention here?” Miyamoto said. “Why did H-3 get built, and why hasn’t anything been done to H-1 since 1981?”

Miyamoto, who previously practiced law on the Mainland and currently is awaiting the results of a bar exam for Hawaii, will be representing herself in the case. While she says the suit is on behalf of all city bus riders, no other plaintiffs currently are involved in an official capacity. Miyamoto will not be able to represent other plaintiffs until she is a practicing attorney in the state.

Miyamoto said that she had hoped that filing the lawsuit would cause the City Council to move the rail project forward.

The Department of the Corporation Counsel, which represents the City Council, stated that “We will vigorously defend the City Council and Council members named as defendants, but we cannot comment on the pending litigation.”