The man who will be Virginia's new expert on public transportation says he wants to do something about the state's love affair with the automobile.

"Either I'm going to help bring Virginia into a new era or I'm going to expend a lot of wind trying Edward W. Pigman said yesterday after he was named head of the newly established Public Transportation Division in the State Department of Highways and Transportation.

"People have been too automobile-oriented to make the necessary commitment to public transportation," Pigman said. "Because nothing has been done, there are no tracks to follow."

Virginia Highway Commissioner Harold King, who announced the appointent, said Pigman would begin his duties Oct. 16. The division, which was created by the General Assembly earlier this year, will have a staff of 15 and a budget of more than $250,000.

Pigman, whose division will adminster $45 million in state and federal money that goes to the state's 12 mass-transit systems, said he hopes to encourage more people to use public transportation instead of automobiles. He said his division probably would stress improving the current mass-transit systems and not try to develop new ones.

With 52,000 miles of roads to administer, Virginia has the third largest state highway department in the nation in terms of mileage. It is considered a strong highway state, where mass public transportation has taken a back seat to private automobiles.

Pigman, who comes to Virginia from the Illinois Division of Public Transportation, acknowledged this, but said he thought it offered an opportunity.

Pigman praised his new boss, King, hose background lies largely in highways.

"I'm personally pleased that he used public transportation to get to work each day," he said of King, who takes a bus every morning to the Department of Highways and Transportation office in Richmond.

Pigman, 34, has degrees from the University of Georgia and a PhD from the University of Illinois. Before joining the Division of Public Transportatioin there, he was a mass transit consultant in Chicago, which has one of the most extensive public transit systems in the country.

A legislative study commission had recommended that the legislature created a separate department of public transportation, but the legislation made it division within the Department of Highways and Transportation.

Pigman's new job has a salary range from $23,500 to $30,000.