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Development & Transportation

Former Head of Allegheny Co. Port Authority Visits to Talk About Future of Travel

The efficient movement of people and goods is one of the essential components of sustainable regions. So, too, is keeping public transportation both accessible and operative at the most efficient levels, according to William W. Millar, a nationally known expert in the fields of public transportation and transportation policy.

Millar spoke on these and other transportation issues at the University of Pittsburgh Tuesday during his lecture, “How Will We Travel in the Future? The Role of Transportation in Building Sustainable Regions."

Millar's comments moved to the subject of transportation safety in the U.S., which he says is a subject that needs to be explored deeper than most are willing to look. 

“In 2011, the last year in which I have good data, [there were] 34,493 [deaths] from transportation of all causes, but 94% of those were highway related. A lot of people know about the 34 thousand deaths, anybody know how many people are injured in transportation per year? 2.3 millions injuries per year.”

For 25 years, the rate of fatalities have fallen, but according to Millar, that is all changing again.

“The use of cell phones and texting while driving is causing injuries and deaths, particularly among young people to rise; and so to me, distracted driving is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with. And I think we can agree that the 34 thousand people plus the 2.3 million injuries on the highways are too much.”

Millar said how we travel in the future is ultimately up to us.

“The decisions we make about where we live, where we work, how we engage politically, what causes we fight for -- that’s going to determine the kinds of choices we have in the future.”

Millar's address was part of the American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series of Pitt’s Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and University Honors College and is cosponsored by the Center for Metropolitan Studies in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Millar served as president of the American Public Transportation Association from 1996 to 2011. Prior to that, he served for 19 years at the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the principal transit operator serving Pittsburgh.

As executive director of the Port Authority from 1983 to 1996, Millar oversaw the development and operation of bus, busway, light rail, paratransit, and inclined plane service. He is the founder of Pittsburgh’s award-winning ACCESS paratransit service.