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Credo: Transit official Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan

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Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, the executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority — the agency in charge of replacing the Transbay Terminal with a new transit center that is expected to include a Caltrain station and someday high speed rail — tells us about enjoying your successes along the way, why public transportation is for everyone and the high value she places on integrity.

Is there a “golden rule” by which you live your life? Integrity. A person is only as good as his or her word.

What is the part about your job you like most? I take great satisfaction in seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. In my business, an incredible amount of work goes into incremental steps so you have to take the time to enjoy your successes along the way — not just at the end of the road. Specifically, seeing the final design drawings for the new Transbay Transit Center and being on the path towards start of construction of the new station has been very gratifying.

What is the part you like least? The part I like least is the length of time it takes to get much-needed public infrastructure projects built.

If you were mayor of San Francisco or Oakland for the day, what would be your first order of business? The biggest misconception is that public transit is only for people without cars or for people who live in the urban core. We have a number of great transit systems here that are reliable, comfortable and often faster than commuting by car. It is my hope that through the hard work of so many people in my industry we can improve on that infrastructure and increase services so that riding a bus or train is more convenient and efficient than driving your car.

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What is the most important book you’ve read? There are many, but one is “The Power Broker” by Robert A. Caro — a must-read for anyone interested in politics and urban planning.

Who has been the most influential person on your professional life? My sister, Shirley, for her support, encouragement and wise counsel throughout the years.

What would you most like to hear your colleagues say about you? That they respect me for my perseverance, hard work and integrity.

Do you take transit? What is your favorite part about it? What is your least favorite? My favorite part is that I can read or get work done while I travel. I wish that the infrastructure was in place to support more bus and rail service so that we could make public transit even more convenient.

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