Today I want to congratulate Bill Millar, President of the American Public Transportation Association after 15 years of extraordinary service to our nation's transit workers and riders.
Bill's hard work has improved the quality of daily life for millions of Americans and, in the process, has helped us create thousands of good jobs.
During Bill's tenure as APTA's president, transit ridership across the country is up by more than 35 percent. Our communities are safer; they are stronger; and they are more accessible to those Americans who cannot afford to own a car, cannot drive, or choose not to drive.
The stakes for success have been high. America's population centers are facing steep growth in the next 20 years, and they will need more transit options. But Bill Millar has helped our nation's transit agencies prepare; he knows that planning early and advocating loudly can help us expand our transit systems and build new ones in time to meet this challenge.
I'm particularly grateful for Bill's support in tackling challenges like distracted driving and transit safety.
And Bill has helped us attract a new generation of young people who are interested in pursuing careers in transit. Through youth summits and school visits, he has inspired the next generation of transit professionals, and the future value of that effort to tomorrow's transit riders cannot be overestimated.
Bill has also joined with us to support President Obama's high-speed rail initiative. In fact, he helped us bring together rail-car and other equipment manufacturers who agreed that, if they were awarded high-speed rail contracts, they would build manufacturing facilities here in America and hire American workers.
Finally, Bill has shared important insights about how we can develop new common-sense guidelines to improve transit safety. And when safety improves, we all win.
As Bill steps down from APTA, though he leaves behind a very strong and effective organization, he will indeed be missed.
Believe me; if you ride a light rail train, subway, streetcar, or transit bus in America, you--like all of us at DOT and the rest of the transportation community--owe Bill Millar a debt of gratitude.