Virginia's first public transportation coordinator, who pledged to help localities get motorists out of their cars and into buses, is quitting after less than a year on the job to take a better-paying position as a private consultant.

Edward W. Pigman said yesterday his quitting had nothing to do with problems in persuading the Dalton administration and his superiors in the state Department of Highways and Transportation to devote more funds and attention to the state's mass transit problems.

The department announced it was launching a nationwide search to find a new coordinator to head the department's Public Transportation Division, established last year by the state legislature in an effort to correct what many lawmakers saw as the department's traditional bias toward highway construction.

This year the department has budgeted only $9.5 million for mass transit aid out of total appropriations of $753 million. After deducting federal grants, publicly run bus lines in Virginia operated at a $37 million loss last year, according to figures Pigman compiled.

Pigman said he has presented the data to state Secretary of Transportation George Walters, a member of Gov. John N. Dalton's cabinet. Walters said the administration is considering whether to ask the legislature for a major increase in mass transit aid in its proposed 1980-2 budget, although he gave no figures.

Members of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which worked with Pigman on mass transit issues, said he was a strong advocate for their positions in Richmond. But no one said they saw political significance in his departure.

"I'd be very pessimistic if I didn't know they were going on a genuine search to replace him," said Fairfax County Supervisor Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield), the commission's vice chairman.

Pigman, 35, said he will be public transportation expert for the Deloitte, Haskins and Sells consulting firm in Chicago. He said the job pays substantially more than the $28,000 a year he made as a state official, but would not say how much he would be earning.